Interrogator wants Kwai bridge to be Unesco site

From The Times

A REPENTANT soldier who helped to interrogate prisoners of war on the Thai-Burma Death Railway wants to make the bridge on the River Kwai a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Takashi Nagase, a teacher who has spent the past 60 years attempting to atone for what he and the Japanese Imperial Army did during the Second World War, spent his 88th birthday yesterday arguing that the United Nations should pay homage to those that died working on the bridge.

More than 16,000 Allied PoWs, mainly British, Dutch and Australians, and 100,000 Asians died during the 18 months that it took to build the 248-mile (400km) railway.

“I may be the only Japanese who truly understands the hell of war,” Mr Nagase said. “We must make sure that the memories of the horrors we committed do not fade away.”

Accompanied by the wife of Ryutaro Hashimoto, a former Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Nagase proposed during talks in Bangkok with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) — an organisation with considerable political influence — the idea of applying to Unesco for the ruins of the railway to be given World Heritage status.

About 80 miles of the infamous railway are still in use, while the bridge on the River Kwai — the subject of the 1957 film — remains a draw for foreign visitors.

The railway and bridge, Mr Nagase said, should be recognised by Unesco as a World Heritage Site and, stand as reminders of the “horrors and evils of history”.

TAT described the proposal as a good idea, but added that an application to the UN would have to wait until Thailand had secured the approval of the countries whose PoWs had died on the railway.

Nagase, who acted as an interpreter for the Japanese military police, mooted his idea last August when representatives of the Commonwealth gathered in Yokohama for a memorial ceremony. “I spoke to all the ambassadors gathered there and they nodded and smiled. But I know that I must present this idea to various PoW societies around the world to discuss it with them,” he said.

Mr Nagase said that he would be travelling to Britain in May to meet Eric Lomax, the British survivor of the Death Railway who recorded his loathing of the man who had interpreted during his torture.

Rod Beattie, a historian who runs the Thai-Burma Railway Centre in Kanchanaburi, believes that Mr Nagase carries little weight with former PoWs.

“Only three or four people in the world know exactly where the railway was. I am one of them, but Mr Nagase is not,” he said. “The concept of remembering the railway is absolutely fine; making it a UN site serves no purpose.”
Japan sees it self as the victim, it considers it was forced in a war and Japan will never apologies for it's state sponsored actions.
Now The US is encouraging a rearming of Japan and they are on the rise again.
16,000 Allied PoWs, mainly British, Dutch and Australians, and 100,000 Asians died
Remember the jap theory was that there was going to be a compromise peace treaty so there had to be some accounting (even if numbers only) for the ABDA POW's. For the local's they would be servants of the empire - no need to account for them.
The Allied War Grave is a touching site, maintained to the high standard that one has come to expect.
The journey to rail end is not easy to forget especially the wooden tresell above the Kwai Noy River which the train covers as very slow speed.
We had a lenthy discusion on the Bangkok-Burma railway on one of the Thai nightlife forums some years ago and the question of why it was pulled up with indecent haste at war end came up.
I asked former Major Roy Hudson RE a resident where I live if he knew anything on the matter as he was a Sapper had been heavily involved in Railways, destruction of from 42-43 and reconstruction from 44 onward. He had learned to drive Locos and like to style himself Railway Engineering Officer Central/Southern Burma. He had finished the war as Major OC Company and then been sent to Siam/Thailand to help disarm the jap with an Indian Army Division in 45.
After some thought he said the line was built to wartime emergency standards and even in those days No One would have authorised its use for a peacetime service. A complete exspensive rebuild would have been nessasary.
In order to build the line so quickly the jap had ripped up a Malaya railway line going from Central to North East Malaya complete with all infrastructure and Malaya wanted it's line back.
The Thai's where not happy having the classic invasion route, to central Thailand, from traditional enemy Burma open with a functioning railway.
And the Brits where a seafaring nation and British maratime commerce did not want a competitor in the form of a railway.
So the line was ripped up amd only what the Thais wanted was left.

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