Japan veteran seeks UN status for death railway

#1
I once watched a documentary about how he was reconciled with Eric Lomax (read story) a very humble and honestly sorry guy. Shame the rest of the Japs can’t be more like him.
From Reuters: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/15022006/325/japan-veteran-seeks-un-status-death-railway.html
TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese war veteran who helped interrogate prisoners of war building the Thai-Burma railway during World War Two is seeking to preserve the "death railway" as a reminder of the horrors of war.
Takashi Nagase, 87, was once an interpreter for the military police, but he has devoted much of his life since the war to trying to atone for the actions of the Japanese military.
Allied prisoners, mostly British, Dutch and Australian, were forced to work on the railway in such harsh conditions that 16,000 of them died of starvation and disease. Many times that many local labourers also lost their lives.
Their plight was later brought to life in the Oscar-winning 1957 film "The Bridge on the River Kwai," and the railway in western Thailand has now become a tourist attraction.
"If we make it a world heritage site, even more people will come and they will pray for those who died," the retired English teacher said in a telephone interview from his home in Kurashiki, western Japan.
He said he hopes recognition of the site will also change Japanese attitudes towards history. Japan is frequently criticised by China and South Korea for what they say is a failure to show sufficient remorse for its past militarism.
"It would be an opportunity for the Japanese to reflect. The Japanese never talk about the war," he said.
Nagase was to leave later on Wednesday for Thailand, where he was scheduled to ask Thai officials to apply to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to make the railway a world heritage site -- a move aimed at encouraging its preservation.
The Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz in Poland and the site of the Hiroshima atomic bombing in Japan have already been granted similar status.
Nagase says he is prepared for opposition to the idea, which he has been mulling for years but first announced last year at an annual memorial service he organises for Commonwealth troops who died in Japan.
"I think some British people will be against this," Nagase said.
"I understand as well as anyone how hellish it was, but world peace is more important than anything. So I want British people to open their hearts," he added.
The devout Buddhist, who has visited the railway more than 120 times since the war, has experience of persuading British veterans to change their minds.
Eric Lomax, a British army veteran who survived working on the railway, wrote in his memoirs of his hatred for the Japanese interpreter who had been present as he was tortured on suspicion of possessing a radio and a map.
The two were eventually reconciled in 1995 after Nagase wrote a letter of apology. This year, Nagase plans to visit Britain for the first time, at the invitation of Lomax, now a close friend.

"I don't have much time left, so while I am still alive I want to apologise to everyone," Nagase said of his visit, during which he also hopes to meet former Dutch prisoners of war.
Accompanying him on his Thai trip will be Kumiko Hashimoto, wife of former prime minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. She will lay flowers at an Allied war ceremony, a highly unusual move for a Japanese in the public eye.
"No important Japanese person has ever done this," Nagase said. "Really it would be best if the emperor went, but that would be difficult for Japan," he added.
"The Japanese did bad things. Shameful and criminal. But the Japanese do not apologise, which is sad," Nagase said.
 
#2
Humanity and humility from someone who knows he's done wrong, which is comforting given that it's not something which is expected (or in fact accepted) in Japanese society. A great-uncle was a PoW of the Japs - I don't know where, it was never discussed and he's now dead (though after a good and long life) - so all I hope is that some of Mr. Nagase's fellow countrymen and women will listen to his story and if not publicly discuss or acknowledge it, accept it as truth of their nation's shameful past in the same way that Germany has.
 
#3
I saw the same documentary,it was very good.

I have been to Thailand and traveled on the railway from the bridge to just before the end of the line which ends just before the Burmese border.

It's amazing what they built,the tressle is somthing to see,the train slows to a crawl while going over it and the view of the river below is somthing.

I also went to Kanchanaburi Cemetery,it was quite moving,the place is spotless.
The differant Unit's that are represented is mind boggling,name's I have never heard of,quite a few from the Indian Div.,Seppoy's,Sappers and Miners etc.

Roughly 5,000 Alied pers. died on the railway but there were over 80,000 civilian death's some say over 100,000 from all over S.E. Asia and S.Asia,either conned or forced to work along side the Alied troops.

If you get to Thailand I recomend going.
You can get day trip's from Bangkok which include riding the train and a buffet luncheon at the end before returning to the Big Smoke,cough,weeezzzz!
Yup Bangkok is one polluted city from all the motor bike's,tuk tuk's,never mind normal traffic.
 
#4
Yep did the same a few years ago. Also visited the museum built by the Aussies at Hellfire pass. Stood outside in the hot humid air sweating like a pig it made you realise just how horrific conditions must have been for the prisoners. Very humbling.
 

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