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A different take on the Tokyo Trials

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A different take on the Tokyo Trials

Postby AJBryant » Tue 09.15.2009 3:49 am

I posted a post (redundantly repetitive, that!) on my LJ yesterday, and quote it here:


I'm inordinately pleased. In the midst of the hell of trying to pack to move and working on another translation project and having a final stab at Himiko (sleep? who needs it — I have COFFEE!) the finished version of a recent translation project has shown up. Of course, I have to talk about it.

The work is one of the projects that I'm quite interested in, and it's one of the translation assignments I was most particularly pleased with — not so much for the job aspect, but because of what the assignment was. As I told someone once, this wasn't a job, it was a mission.

The work in question is a book called The Tokyo Trials and the Truth of "Pal's Judgment" by Prof. Watanabe Shôichi, a man I would very much like to meet some day. Allow me to briefly quote from the introduction to the book, and from a short "about the book" notice:

Few in the West are familiar with the name Radhabinod Pal. This is a pity.

Pal, a contemporary of Gandhi and Neru, was an Indian jurist who was noted for his attention to legal detail and his devotion to the rule of law. He was the Indian representative on the bench of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (better known as the Tokyo Trials), which was MacArthur’s answer to the Nuremberg Trials.

Of the eleven judges at the Tokyo Trials, only Pal had specialized in international law. At the general meeting of the Association of International Law in 1937, he was inaugurated as one of the association’s chairmen. (Afterward, he was also twice elected chairman of the United Nations International Law Commission — serving in 1958, and again from 1962 to 1967.) Many of the other justices, in fact, were no longer active jurists, but rather politicians in the various nations of the Allied Powers who had returned to the bench from their official governmental positions.

The critical factor, though, that makes Justice Pal so noteworthy, and makes him truly stand out from his ten colleagues, is that his was the lone dissenting voice in the convictions of Japan’s accused Class-A war criminals. Basing his position strictly on the law and the rules of evidence, Pal maintained that the Tokyo Trials were in error.

What was the result of his dissent?

By diktat from the GHQ, his verdict was not allowed to be published in Japan during the period of occupation, and it was not publicized in the West. To this day, Pal’s Judgment (as it ultimately came to be called) remains virtually unknown outside Japan; inside Japan, it is the subject of considerable debate.

...

Pal wrote his own dissentient verdict wherein he explained his position, meticulously documenting each and every point of disagreement and providing a detailed history of the War back through Japan’s involvement in China in the 1920s. For his pains and efforts, after the trial his views were censored by SCAP, his verdict lay unpublished, and his arguments went unheard.

In this book, The Truth of “Radhabinod Pal’s Judgment,” author Watanabe Shôichi condenses Pal’s lengthy and occasionally complex arguments down to an easily digested and quick read. ...

Only in the past few years has Pal’s Judgment come to be disseminated, though it is still virtually unknown in the West. It is possible that, with a judicious reading of Watanabe’s book, readers having an unbiased eye and a mind willing to accept that not all may have been as we were told may even come to acknowledge the same thing that none other than Douglas MacArthur himself admitted when he spoke before Congress in 1951 that, “Their purpose ... in going to war was largely dictated by security.”


Regardless of what you know (or think you know) about World War Two, take a few hours (it’s a short book) and read this examination of the opinion of one of the judges whose job it was to decide the facts. Maybe... just maybe... you might find an opinion or two changed a bit.

You can download the entire book (it’s only 120 pages) in PDF from the Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact. Here is a direct link to the PDF file: http://www.sdh-fact.com/CL02_1/63_S4.pdf


Enjoy!

(Oh... the LJ is sengokudaimyo.livejournal.com )
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Re: A different take on the Tokyo Trials

Postby chikara » Tue 09.15.2009 7:16 am

AJBryant wrote:.....
Regardless of what you know (or think you know) about World War Two, take a few hours (it’s a short book) and read this examination of the opinion of one of the judges whose job it was to decide the facts. Maybe... just maybe... you might find an opinion or two changed a bit. ....
.....

One thing I do know about wars is that it is the victors who write history. It will be interesting to read a different (dissenting) view from someone who was one of the victors.

Thanks Tony-san.
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Re: A different take on the Tokyo Trials

Postby AJBryant » Tue 09.15.2009 4:07 pm

Thanks.

In particular, I'd like your opinion -- as the Aussies (at least in the last generation) always seemed to be particularly grudge-bearing toward the Japanese. (Reading the history, I can kind of understand that -- but reading the history also from the other side... sigh. History is an incredible, living, breathing, beast.)

Have you seen Blood Oath? If not -- you should.


Tony
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Re: A different take on the Tokyo Trials

Postby chikara » Wed 09.16.2009 2:20 am

AJBryant wrote:Thanks.

In particular, I'd like your opinion -- as the Aussies (at least in the last generation) always seemed to be particularly grudge-bearing toward the Japanese. (Reading the history, I can kind of understand that -- but reading the history also from the other side... sigh. History is an incredible, living, breathing, beast.)

Have you seen Blood Oath? If not -- you should.


Tony

Yes, I have seen Blood Oath.

You're right, Aussies of my father's generation are/were very unforgiving of the Japanese. One of my uncles was captured in the Pacific, imprisoned at Changi and then worked on the Burma Railroad. I can understand why it was difficult for him to forgive. My father was in the RAAF in the Pacific. I remember my father being disgusted on a visit to Green Island on the Great Barrier Reef many years ago that they actually accepted Japanese Yen in the tourist shops.

The propaganda that generation was subjected to would have left them with a skewed view even if they had no personal experiences on which to base a grudge.

On a side note this same uncle was on holiday in Hawaii and visited the USS Arizona Memorial to pay his respects. Apparently he lost his temper when a tour guide told him that WW2 began on December 7, 1941. My uncle had been with the AIF in North Africa fighting first the Italians and then the Germans since early 1941. I guess not too many Americans have heard of Tobruk or El Alamein. :)
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Re: A different take on the Tokyo Trials

Postby AJBryant » Wed 09.16.2009 3:03 am

chikara wrote:Apparently he lost his temper when a tour guide told him that WW2 began on December 7, 1941. My uncle had been with the AIF in North Africa fighting first the Italians and then the Germans since early 1941. I guess not too many Americans have heard of Tobruk or El Alamein. :)


Yeah, we kind of have a blind spot on that sort of thing. American history shows that we prefer being fashionably late to wars. When we are on time, people bitch at us. ;)
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Re: A different take on the Tokyo Trials

Postby ss » Fri 09.18.2009 12:15 am

Chikara wrote:
One of my uncles was captured in the Pacific, imprisoned at Changi and then worked on the Burma Railroad. I can understand why it was difficult for him to forgive.


I recall reading that from the history textbook, large number of POWs (Prisoner of war) were sent to build the Death Railway and were forced to work long hours under extremely harsh conditions. The railway had estimated to take five years to complete, but the POWs were forced to work so hard that it was completed in 16 months! The whole project cost the lives of more than 90,000 people.

Speaking of that, in Chinese history, there was an emperor Qin Shihuang 始皇帝(しこうてい). Some people regarded him as a great man, some think he was a cruel ruler. He enforced strict laws and showed no mercy to the people who broke them. He banned Confucianism and burned Confucian books because Confucianism did not support the harsh form of rule he was using. Many Confucian scholars were put to death for not obeying his new laws. The construction of great wall cost an uncountable number of people died.

Sorry, Papa, off-topic again.
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Re: A different take on the Tokyo Trials

Postby Mystique » Mon 09.21.2009 4:15 pm

I sincerely hope that you are, by no means, comparing the two...
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Re: A different take on the Tokyo Trials

Postby Txkun » Tue 09.22.2009 2:34 am

Thanks Tony!
I'll read the PDF if I can't find in the library (being it the Japanase Culture library this will be an interesting test too).

I think I agree with the part "Few in the West..."
But what about Japanese people?
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Re: A different take on the Tokyo Trials

Postby ss » Tue 09.22.2009 7:58 pm

Mystique wrote:
I sincerely hope that you are, by no means, comparing the two...


Nah, I think it's not really a point I'm trying to get at here. It's interesting to discuss about history, unfortunately I'm not a historical expert myself, just throwing in some points here as I recalled having this discussion in class when I was younger.

I read that some people see Emperor Qin as a great man, as he unified China into one country, gained control of raw materials, implemented new legal system, encouraged trade and affluence. Qin came around conquering states one after another, thus killing millions of lives, but afterward peace was there for several centuries.

Not implying I'm a pacifist, but I've always been thinking why "war" is necessarily? What is the "motive" behind? While Germany obviously wanted to be the master of Europe, why Japan went to war? Some people still think that WWII was not a war of aggression on Japan's part. They see it a war Japan was protecting itself against the western powers' refusal to sell raw materials to Japan. They even think it was a war with the purpose of liberating Asia.

To me, agony and suffering always go with war, the fate that befall the innocent victims. That's probably an insignificant point I'm looking at.

I read that certain view Chikara brought up (which I quoted in previous post) and thought of writing something. Should you find them irrelevant and not appropriate, do let me know, I'll delete my posts. Thanks.
Last edited by ss on Wed 09.23.2009 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A different take on the Tokyo Trials

Postby kurisuto » Tue 09.22.2009 9:31 pm

SS wrote:Some people still think that WWII was not a war of aggression on Japan's part.


You mean, people like Watanabe Shôichi ?



As for the book, I only read the first few pages (which were quite interesting), and I sure as heck am no historian, but I find the first words of the second paragraph a bit dishonest or at least a bit ambiguous -- no disrespect to the author or the translator who seem to really care for the book -- in that it somehow equates Pal to Gandhi and Nehru, or rather to Gandhi and Nehru as represented in our collective mind. "Equates" may not be the word, but when you read it, it seems like the expected reaction would be "ah ! If he is a contemporary fellow Indian jurist (friend ? associate ?) of Gandhi and Nehru, then he must be a good, reasonable person. And right, at that !" I've never been a fan of this kind of sentences, where you put words or names into the same package, sometimes letting the readers rearrange them into a simpler "idea" (PalGandhiNehru). Again, it's not a judgment on the book, just on the wording. Maybe I'm reading too much in this.
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Re: A different take on the Tokyo Trials

Postby AJBryant » Wed 09.23.2009 9:57 pm

You are.

The point is, Pal was a prominent jurist in India at the same time Nehru and Gandhi were stirring up things. They were contemporaries -- and people know of the other two and when they lived, but no one has ever heard of Pal.
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Re: A different take on the Tokyo Trials

Postby kurisuto » Thu 09.24.2009 9:38 am

"Kurisuto, contemporary of Bruce Springsteen and Michael Jackson,is a well-known karaoke singer. And he likes apples and oranges, as well as other fruits that are round and juicy."

Don't get me wrong, I understand the point you're making. The only thing History has retained is "Japan=bad", and it couldn't care less about a dissenting judge who seems to make some good points, a judge whose name I don't recall ever having heard or read anywhere. That's clearly not how it ought to be, and I'm sure M. Watanabe wrote this book in good faith. But that doesn't stop me from thinking this particular line was a bit far-fetched.
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Re: A different take on the Tokyo Trials

Postby AJBryant » Thu 09.24.2009 3:44 pm

<shrug>

Okay.
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Re: A different take on the Tokyo Trials

Postby two_heads_talking » Tue 09.29.2009 9:06 am

kurisuto wrote:"Kurisuto, contemporary of Bruce Springsteen and Michael Jackson,is a well-known karaoke singer. And he likes apples and oranges, as well as other fruits that are round and juicy."

Don't get me wrong, I understand the point you're making. The only thing History has retained is "Japan=bad", and it couldn't care less about a dissenting judge who seems to make some good points, a judge whose name I don't recall ever having heard or read anywhere. That's clearly not how it ought to be, and I'm sure M. Watanabe wrote this book in good faith. But that doesn't stop me from thinking this particular line was a bit far-fetched.


having read this thread, I have no idea what your agenda is.. You are clearly upset about something, but your attention to certain lines is just a bit odd. Go outside, work out, get some agnst out and then reread this thread when you aren't ready to break glass.. :) not a sermon, just a thought.
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Re: A different take on the Tokyo Trials

Postby kurisuto » Tue 09.29.2009 10:28 am

two_heads_talking wrote:having read this thread, I have no idea what your agenda is.. You are clearly upset about something


Here's my suggestion : start by reading it.

Talking of reading, there was a comment on youtube (yeah, I read youtube comments) by someone whose first message had been misunderstood. It went something like "I wasn't angry at all ; it's the voice in your head when you read my comment that sounded angry". I guess it sounded very angry.
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