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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 August 2007, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Japanese PM meets war judge's son
Pransanta Pal
Mr Pal is proud of his father's stance on the tribunal
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has met the son of an Indian judge who opposed punishing Japanese war criminals convicted by the Allies.

He also met relatives of the nationalist leader, Subhash Chandra Bose, whose forces fought alongside imperial Japan in the Second World War.

The meeting with the judge's son has been condemned by some Asian countries.

But the premier dismissed suggestions that he was re-kindling the row over Japan's wartime atrocities.

"Your father is still respected by many in Japan," Mr Abe said during the 20-minute meeting with the 81-year-old Prasanta Pal, whose father, Radhabinod Pal, is a hero to Japanese nationalists.

Shinzo Abe in India
Mr Abe's visit to Mr Pal has been criticised in South Korea

Mr Pal was the only one on the 11-judge Allied panel to voice dissent over the execution of Japanese war criminals, which he described as the judgment of the victors over the vanquished.

Prasanta Pal told the AFP news agency that he was "very, very happy to see" Mr Abe.

"I feel proud of the fact that my father is still remembered for his contribution that was only correct and just. How can you blame only one side for war crimes and not the others?" he asked.

Correspondents say that the meeting with Mr Pal could damage improving relations with China, which suffered under Japan's military aggression in the early 20th century.

War criminal

The visit was also criticised in South Korea last week, where an editorial in the country's biggest newspaper said it was aimed at "claiming innocence" for war criminals.

"He will travel all the way to India to embrace the descendents of a judge hailed as a hero by Japanese militarists for claiming innocence for Class A war criminals," the paper said.

At the meeting, Prasanta Pal showed Mr Abe a photograph of his father with the prime minister's grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, during a 1966 visit to Japan.

Mr Kishi - a strong admirer of the judge - was listed as a war criminal but was never convicted.

"After meeting the prime minister and the great honour I received, I won't mind even if I die now," Mr Pal said.

A senior Japanese government official told the Reuters news agency that the meeting had no "political purpose", adding that eastern India was an important area of investment for Japan.

After meeting Mr Bose's relatives, the prime minister said that many Japanese have been "moved deeply by such persons of strong will and action of the independence of India".

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