Wednesday, August 15, 2007

He's My Buddy, My Pal

How am I supposed to frame this latest bit of news?

OK, let me suspend my disbelief just a little:

Japan PM Abe to meet son of Indian WW2 trial judge

By George Nishiyama

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday he would meet the son of an Indian judge who opposed punishing Japanese war criminals convicted by an Allied tribunal, a move likely to refuel debate about his views on wartime history.

Abe denied the meeting, to be held next week when he visits India, would invite protest from Asian countries that suffered under Japan's aggression during World War Two.

The 52-year-old Abe, the first prime minister born after the war, caused an uproar in March after saying there was no proof the Japanese government or military had forced women - mostly Asian - to work at wartime brothels.

He has since reiterated that he stands by a 1993 government apology to the women, but Abe has in the past questioned the legitimacy of the Allied tribunal and made visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, which honours some of the convicted war criminals along with Japan's war dead.

"Judge Pal has ties to Japan. I am looking forward to hearing stories about his father," Abe told reporters, referring to the meeting with the son of Radhabinod Pal, who was on the 11-judge panel of the Allied tribunal and the only one to voice dissent.

Pal said the tribunal was judgment of the vanquished by the victors - a point shared by some historians and jurists. Although he also said there was overwhelming evidence of atrocities committed by the Japanese military, he is revered by Japanese nationalists.

A monument dedicated to him even stands on the grounds of Yasukuni Shrine...

Having made so many concessions over the last year to opposition figures and to peace activists, and wishing to reestablish his bona fides in a vague but ultimately meaningless gesture to his core supporters, the Prime Minister has decided to pay a courtesy call on the son of a person little remembered in Japan today but renowned throughout the world for an act of personal bravery, the announcement filtering out on the day of Japan's World War II surrender by the mearest coincidence. Apologists for the war in Japan, who have been shut out of the public discourse for years and who have had absolutely no sway over the Prime Minister, the Kantei, the Cabinet or any other public institution, still have feelings. It is important that the pacific hordes hold back from their usual pressure tactics and accusations of treason to accord the apologists this one small moment of solace for what should have been.

You see? That was not so hard.

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