Posts Tagged ‘Japanese’

British and Japanese veterans shake hands in Second World War reconciliation event

November 12th, 2015

Mr Welland presented Mr Urayama and Mr Mikio Kinoshita, who served as a sergeant in the Japanese Railway Construction Army on the infamous Burma Railway, with photos of the Battle of Kohima memorial.

In return, Mr Urayama gave the British veteran a specially made tie, while Mr Kinoshita presented him with a traditional wooden doll made by his daughter.

Mr Welland, from Colchester, served in a special forces unit in Norway before being transferred to the Far East with the Royal Berkshire Regiment and sent to halt the Japanese advance into India.

The twin clashes of Imphal and Kohima were fought between early April and late June 1944 and involved heavily outnumbered British and Indian troops desperately fighting to deny the Japanese attackers the high ground.

The Japanese were forced to retreat south and the battle is considered the turning point in the land war in south-east Asia because it demonstrated that the Japanese were not invincible.

Mr Welland admitted that he suffered nightmares for many years after the war and recalled stepping over countless bodies on the battlefield. He travelled to Japan for the first time last year after meeting the daughter of a Japanese veteran at a meeting of the Burma Star Association.

The year, he attended a Remembrance Day memorial service on Wednesday at the Commonwealth War Cemetery in the Hodogaya district of Yokohama, and said he intended to return to build bridges with more Japanese veterans in the future.

“I want to keep doing things like this for a few more years, if I can,” he said. “It just keeps getting better.”

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More than 7,000 Japanese war victims’ remains never claimed

August 13th, 2015

Approximately 100,000 people perished in the inferno, a further 125,000 were injured and 1.5 million people lost their homes.

The cities of Osaka, Yokohama, Kamaishi and Sakai were also identified as important strategic targets for the Allies and were heavily bombed.

The remains of 815 people remain in storage in Hiroshima, killed in the first atom bomb attack, while 122 residents of Nagasaki are awaiting collection.

Temples in each of the cities are storing the remains of people who could be identified by their clothing or identity papers but have never been collected by relatives.

The temples have repeatedly appealed for family members to come forward to take their relatives’ remains but it is unlikely that any more remains will be claimed seven decades after the war ended.

In many cases, men sent to the front never returned and other family members were killed but never identified.

As many as 500,000 Japanese civilians died in the conflict.

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Priceless Japanese artefacts taken by tourist who thought they were souvenirs

March 10th, 2015

During the war, the island of Okinawa was forced to use the Japanese language the rest of the country used rather than their own dialect for the purposes of unification.

Anyone heard using their native tongue would be forced to wear the wooden plaque around their neck.

Museum director Peter Roberts-Taira said: “I’m very, very relieved.

“It’s the first time these items have ever been out of Japan, so the museums themselves were taking a risk.

“It was Saturday, right at the very end of the day when everyone was packing away that we realised they had gone.

“One was a wooden plaque with some Japanese on it, the other was a maths book which children had in their classrooms.

“You wouldn’t know they were valuable to look at, so maybe somebody just though they could take them.

“The message went out wider to people who asked their friends, and apparently they discovered a friend of a friend had thought those things were possible to take away as souvenirs.

“They are irreplaceable, if they are gone, they are gone forever. It’s very, very special to have them at all.”

The artefacts are now being returned to the Peace Memorial Museum in Okinawa.

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Watch: footage shows wreck of long-lost WWII Japanese battleship

March 8th, 2015

Mr Allen’s publicity agency Edelman said in a statement on Wednesday that Mr Allen and his research team aboard his superyacht M/Y Octopus found the ship over the weekend in the Sibuyan Sea, more than eight years after their search began.

The Musashi sank in October 1944 in the Sibuyan Sea during the battle of Leyte, losing half of its 2,400 crew members.

Japanese battleship Musashi leaving Brunei in 1944 for the Battle of Leyte Gulf

An organisation that supports Japanese navy veterans and conducts research on maritime defence said that if the discovery is confirmed, a memorial service could be held at the site.

Mr Allen said he respects the sunken area as a war grave and plans to work with Japan’s government to make sure the site is treated respectfully in line with Japanese traditions.

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Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen: ‘I’ve found wreck of long-lost WWII Japanese battleship’

March 7th, 2015

Japanese battleship Musashi leaving Brunei in 1944 for the Battle of Leyte Gulf

In another Twitter message, Mr Allen wrote, “RIP crew of Musashi, approximately 1,023 lost”.

The second ship in the Yamato-class vessel built for the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Musashi was launched in November 1940 and weighed 72,800 tons when full laden.

At more than 800 feet from bow to stern and with a beam of 121 feet, the vessel was capable of more than 27 knots and had a range of 8,300 miles.

But it was her impressive array of armament – including three turrets each fitted with three 18-inch guns capable of firing a 3,220lb armour-piercing shell more than 46,000 yards – that most worried the Allies.

The wreck of the Musashi is claimed to have been located off the Philippines

Japan originally planned to construct 13 Yamato-class battleships but only the Yamato and Musashi were completed before a shortage of raw materials forced the military to curtail the programme.

A third vessel, the Shinano, was being built but was converted into an aircraft carrier when it became apparent that the era of battleships had been surpassed by naval air power.

Assigned to the Combined Fleet, the Musashi was deployed in early 1943 to Japan’s Pacific base of Truk – known as Japan’s “Gibraltar in the Pacific” due to its defences and strategic importance.

A girder that looks like a catapult used to launched float planes (AFP/Getty)

In October, the Musashi was dispatched with a fleet of 67 vessels to throw back the American landings on the Philippine island of Leyte. Spotted by reconnaissance aircraft from the US fleet on October 24, the Musashi was hit early in the encounter by a torpedo that reduced her speed and manoeuverabilty.

Waves of attacks by US aircraft caused damage the length of the warship – US records state that the Musashi was hit by 19 torpedoes and 17 bombs – until she capsized and sank.

Of the 2,399-man crew, just 1,376 were recovered. Captain Toshihira Inoguchi chose to go down with his vessel.

A wheel on a valve believed to be from a lower engineering area of World War II battleship Musashi (AFP/Getty)

The loss of the Musashi was a serious blow to the power and prestige of the Japanese navy, although historians agree that she would not have been able to alter the outcome of the war in the Pacific, which was already dominated by aircraft carriers.

And to the Japanese public the loss of her sister ship, the Yamato, on a kamikaze mission against the US invasion of Okinawa in April 1945, was a far more dramatic blow to morale. Again hit by torpedoes and bombs dropped by US aircraft, the forward magazine exploded and left a mushroom cloud that rose nearly 4 miles high in the 3,055 of her 3,332 crew perished.

The wreck of the Yamato was located in 1982 in 1,120 feet of water some 180 miles south-west of the Japanese island of Kyushu.

Seattle-born Allen, 62, is the 51st richest man in the world, according to Forbes Magazine, with a net worth of $ 17.5 billion, and has long been interested in discovering wrecks of historical importance, as well as space exploration.

His search for the Musashi began more than eight years ago and drew on historical records from four countries, detailed undersea topographical data and advanced technology aboard his yacht, the 414-foot M/Y Octopus.

Despite numerous eyewitness accounts of the engagement, the exact location of the ship has remained unknown for 71 years.

The Musashi was launched in 1940

Mr Allen’s team combined historical data with advanced technology to narrow the search area, with a hypsometric bathymetric survey of the ocean floor commissioned to determine the terrain. This data was used to eliminate large areas for the search team and also resulted in the discovery of five new geographic features on the floor of the Sibuyan Sea.

In February, the team set out to conduct the final phase of the search using a BlueFin-12 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle. Because the search area had been so narrowly defined by the previous survey, the AUV was able to detect the wreckage of the Musashi on only its third dive. A remote operated vehicle with a high-definition camera confirmed the identity of the wreckage as being that of the Musashi.

“Since my youth, I have been fascinated with World War II history, inspired by my father’s service in the U.S. Army”, said Mr. Allen. “The Musashi is truly an engineering marvel and, as an engineer at heart, I have a deep appreciation for the technology and effort that went into its construction.

“I am honored to play a part in finding this key vessel in naval history and honouring the memory of the incredible bravery of the men who served aboard her”, he added.

In a statement, Mr Allen said the research team is “mindful of the responsibility related to the wreckage of the Musashi as a war grave and intend to work with the Japanese government to ensure the site is treated respectfully and in accordance with Japanese traditions”.

In 2012, he loaned the M/Y Octopus to the British government to search for the bell of HMS Hood, which was sunk by the Bismark in May 1941. The search of the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland was unsuccessful, however, because of poor weather and powerful currents at depths of 9,200 feet around the wreck.

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Heir to Japanese throne appeals for ‘correct’ Second World War history

February 23rd, 2015

Naruhito, the crown prince, used a press conference marking his 55th birthday on Monday to express opinions that would be considered mild elsewhere but are a rare example of Japan’s imperial family passing comment on the nation’s elected leaders.

“I myself did not experience the war, but it is important to look back on the past humbly and to correctly pass down tragic experiences and the history behind Japan to generations that have no direct knowledge of the war, at a time when memories of the war are about to fade”, the prince said.

Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, has expressed his intention to rewrite the constitution before he steps down, with sections concerning Japan’s right to use its military the most likely to be altered.

The prince also pointed out that the world is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the war and expressed hopes that this year “will be an opportunity to take the preciousness of peace to heart and to renew our determination to pursue peace”.

“The imperial family very rarely wades into politics, but it is very hard to believe that this is not a planned and calculated comment that has been approved by the Imperial Household Agency,” Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at the Japan campus of Temple University, told The Telegraph.

“Clearly the agency believes Mr Abe has gone too far and that it will be bad for the nation if he continues to take the line that Japan did nothing wrong in the early decades of the last century”, he said.

“The agency will be particularly keen to avoid any new questions being raised about the imperial family’s role in and responsibility for Japan’s colonial occupations and the war”, he added.

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British ex-POW in Japanese camp ‘disgusted’ by guard demands for compensation

November 11th, 2014

“I want to ask that our honour be restored very soon,” Lee said.

Lee complained that while former servicemen convicted of war crimes receive monthly pensions, non-Japanese nationals receive a smaller amount.

“It’s a tough situation and it’s continuing,” Lee said. “I would like to ask for support.”

But Arthur Lane, who was a bugler with the Manchester Regiment and captured at the fall of Singapore in February 1942, says the troops from Japan’s colonies were the most vicious abusers of prisoners.

An emaciated British POW in a Japanese Camp

“The Japanese guards were bad, but the Koreans and the Formosans were the worst,” he told The Telegraph from his home in Stockport.

“These were men who the Japanese looked down on as colonials, so they needed to show they were as good as the Japanese,” he said. “And they had no-one else to take it out on other than us POWs.”

Now 94, Lane was sent to work on the “Death Railway,” which was designed to run from Thailand to the Indian border and to serve as the Japanese invasion route. An estimated 12,400 Allied POWs and some 90,000 Asian labourers died during the construction of the 258-mile track.

“After my capture, I witnessed many atrocities – murders, executions, beatings and instances of sadistic torture – and I was on the receiving end myself on a number of occasions,” he said.

“I was also one of a handful of buglers in the camps and played my bugle at thousands of burials for the victims of the ‘sons of heaven’,” he added.

“That’s why I have no sympathy for this group’s claims,” he added. “These men volunteered and they all knew exactly what they were doing. And they mistreated us because they wanted to please their masters and knew they could get away with it.

“They joined up for kicks, when Japan was winning the war, and they took advantage of that for their own enjoyment,” Lane said.

“They won’t get an apology or compensation from the Japanese government,” he added. “I think a more fitting result would be to have then taken out and whipped for what they did to us.”

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Japanese politicians defy critics to worship at controversial shrine to war dead

April 23rd, 2014

Washington expressed “disappointment” after Mr Abe went to Yasukuni in December, while Joe Biden, the vice president, called on all sides to take measures to “lower the tension” in the region.

Speaking to reporters after visiting the shrine on Tuesday, Hidehisa Otsuji, a member of Mr Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said the decision not to attend the festival in person “reflects the prime minister’s judgement in view of Japan’s national interests.”

Other senior members of the administration said the prime minister’s offering and the visit by politicians “should have nothing to do with” President Obama’s state visit.

Members of the cabinet who have visited the shrine during the festival include the health minister, the minister of internal affairs and the cabinet member charged with overseeing the return of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea.

Activists from Japan and South Korea filed a legal complaint against the Japanese government on Monday seeking damages for Mr Abe’s visit to the shrine in December, on the grounds that it violates the constitutional principle of the separation of the state and religion.

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