Remembered in Japan, forgotten in India……..
Tokyo trials on Netflix, Actor Irfan plays the Indian judge!
Does anyone in India know this piece of history?
Answer must be a firm “No” from most of us!
Now pl read on.
The day was 12 November, 1948. Tokyo Trials are going on in a huge garden house on the outskirts of Tokyo. The trial of fifty-five Japanese war criminals including Japan’s then Prime Minister Tojo, after losing WWII.
Of these, twenty-eight people have been identified as Class-A (crimes against peace) war criminals. If proved, the only punishment is the “death penalty”.
Eleven international judges from all over the world are announcing…
Suddenly, one thundered, “Not Guilty!”
A silence came down in the hallway. Who was this lone dissenter?
His name was Radha Binod Pal, a Judge from India.
Born in 1886 in Kumbh of East Bengal, his mother made a living by working as a maid and taking care of a household and their cow. For feeding the cow, Radha used to take the cow to the land near a local primary school.
When the teacher taught in school, Radha used to listen from outside. One day the school inspector came to visit the school from the city. He asked some questions of the students after entering the class. Everyone was silent. Radha said from outside the classroom window…. “I know the answer to all your questions.” And he answered all the questions one by one. Inspector said… “Wonderful!.. Which class do you read?”
The answer came, “I do not read… I graze a cow.”
Everyone was shocked to hear that. Calling the head teacher, the school inspector instructed the boy to take admission in school as well as provide some stipend.
This is how education of Radha Binod Pal started.
Then after passing the school final with the highest number in the district, he was admitted to Presidency College.
After taking M.Sc. from the University of Calcutta, he studied law again and got the Doctorate title. In the context of choosing the opposite of two things he once said, “Law and mathematics are not so different after all.”
Coming back again to the International Court of Tokyo…
In his convincing argument to the rest of the jurists he signified that the Allies, (winners of WW II), also violated the principles of restraint and neutrality of international law.
In addition to ignoring Japan’s surrender hints, they killed two hundred thousand innocent people using nuclear bombardment._
The judges were forced to drop many of the accused from Class-A to B, after seeing the logic written on twelve hundred thirty-two pages by Radha Binod Pal. These Class-B war criminals were saved by him from a sure death penalty. His verdict in the International Court gave him and India a great reputation.
Japan respects this great man. In 1966 Emperor Hirohito awarded him the highest civilian honor of the country, ‘Kokko Kunsao’. Two busy roads in Tokyo and Kyoto have been named after him. Contents of his sentence has been included in the syllabus of their Law . In front of the Supreme Court of Tokyo, his statue has been placed.
In 2007, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his desire to meet his family members in Delhi and met his son.
Dr. Radha Binod Pal (27 January 1886 – 10 January 1967) name is remembered in the history of Japan. In Tokyo, Japan, he has a museum and a statue in Yasukuni shrine.
Japan University has a research centre in his name.
Because of his judgement on Japanese war criminals, Chinese intensely hate him.
He is the author of many books related to law. In India, almost nobody knew him and perhaps not even his closest neighbours knew him!
A Hindi movie was made on him, Tokyo Trials, starring Irfan Khan but that movie never made any headlines….
…. just one of the many, many underrated and unknown Indians, who were great!
I wish we had been taught about such heroes in our history books.
One thought on “Forgotten Heroes of India”
Judge Pal had served in Calcutta’s high court and strongly sympathized with the anticolonial struggle in India. An Indian judge, remembered by fewer and fewer of his own countrymen 40 years after his death, is still big in Japan.
“Justice Pal is highly respected even today by many Japanese for the noble spirit of courage he exhibited during the International Military Tribunal for the Far East,” Mr. Abe told the Indian Parliament. He then traveled to Kolkata to meet the judge’s 81-year-old son, Prasanta.
It speaks a lot! 🙏🙏