Tributes on 75th yr of Battle of Kohima

Tributes on 75th yr of Battle of Kohima
(2nd from left) Kenji Hiramatsu, (right) Sir Dominic Anthony Gerard Asquith, Neiphiu Rio and Lt. Gen. Rajeev Sirohi at RCEMPA.
Correspondent KOHIMA, APR 4 (NPN) | Publish Date: 4/4/2019 12:26:03 PM IST

The peace we enjoy today has been built over tremendous sacrifices of the past

- Kenji Hiramatsu - 

In commemoration of the 75th year of the Battle of Kohima, that turned the tide of war, relatives of the men from the British and Japanese armies, representatives of the Japanese and British governments and a host of other dignitaries paid tributes to the memory of the fallen soldiers here on Thursday.

In a moving message on the occasion, Japanese Ambassador to India, Kenji Hiramatsu said “We all should never forget that the peace we enjoy today has been built over tremendous sacrifices of the past. Squarely facing the history of the past, Japan renews its commitment to never repeat the devastation of World War-II. We look back in order to look towards the future.” Bringing the message of solidarity at the commemoration programme of the Battle of Kohima fought during World War II on the theme “Remembrance, reconciliation and rebirth” at RCEMPA, Jotsoma, Hiramatsu described the Battle of Kohima as one of the fiercest and toughest where thousands lost their lives, besides causing severe sufferings and pain to Nagaland and the neighbouring States.

Hiramatsu reasserted that genuine reconciliation was only possible through dedicated efforts and also acknowledged those who had dedicated themselves to the tireless efforts for reconciliation over the long years.

He also appreciated chief minister Neiphiu Rio and the state for providing the Japanese delegation an opportunity to make such a reflection and also enabling them to reaffirm reconciliation with the past.

On a positive note, Hiramatsu maintained that relations among countries that once fought against each other has been transformed for the good. “The relationship between Japan and the North Eastern region, including Nagaland, has become substantially better,” he remarked.

The Japanese ambassador said his country attached great importance to people-to-people exchanges, particularly among the youth who will shape the future. He said the Act East Forum was formed two years ago to help accelerate development of the North-east region and expand people-to-people exchanges.

Hiramatsu expressed optimism that through IRIS programme, young Nagas and youth from other North-eastern States would gain real experience in Japan and eventually become instrumental in making “our bonds” even stronger in the years to come.

Also speaking on the occasion, Kohima village head GB Medo Keretsu urged both the Japanese and British, to apologise to one another and also to the Nagas, to heal old wounds and move forward with the message of peace and universal brotherhood in commemorating the 75th anniversary of WW-II.

State chief secretary said in the Battle of Kohima 75 years ago, Kohima was in the middle of a modern war which the people did not comprehend. 

He said bomb blasts and cries of suffering was a common phenomenon then but a nightmare for the Naga people who suffered as a consequence of the war. 

 Toy however, remarked that he was delighted that 75 years later, all principal players of the Second World War – Japan, Britain, India and Nagas – congregated on the soil of Kohima where the bloody battle was fought.

Burma Campaign Society chairperson, Akiko Macdonald, GOC 3 Corps Lt Gen Rajeev Sirohi and Kohima Educational Trust (KET) CEO Sylvia May also spoke on the occasion.

India, Japan, UK stand together to work for peace and prosperity: Dominic Anthony

Paying rich tribute to the soldiers who had laid down their lives, British High Commissioner to India Sir Dominic Anthony Gerard Asquith KCMG said their courage and sacrifice helped change the course of history.

“Today India, Japan and the UK stand together as three great democracies. We work with each other for peace and prosperity globally, and are committed to facing today’s challenges in partnership,” he said.

Recollecting the fierce Battle of Kohima at the 75th anniversary of the battle, he said all warring parties gathered to remember the British, Indian and Commonwealth service personnel, along with the valiant Naga non-combatants, who had died in successfully defending the Kohima Ridge against a numerically superior force. 

This was a vital turning point in WW-II, he added.

He said as members of the UN, all those who had gathered at RCEMPA “as members of the United Nations, have a common purpose in preserving and strengthening the international system of cooperation that emerged from the turmoil of the first half of the twentieth century. As independent and proud countries we cherish hard-won freedoms and those democratic traditions and values that are at the core of who we are today.”

Your war ended here in our land whilst ours began: Rio

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio said the Battle of Kohima was one of the most critical battles of WW-II which proved decisive. He paid rich tribute to all the fallen soldiers who “answered the call of duty and sacrificed their today for our tomorrow.”

While remembering all the brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives for their nations and for a cause that was for “greater good for humanity”, Rio informed the gathering that Nagaland was going to organise a yearlong commemoration programme of the Battle of Kohima with the theme “Remembrance, Reconciliation and Rebirth”.

Rio reminded that Kohima was the theatre of the war in 1944 and how the Nagas were drawn into it to both sides – British as well with Japanese. Rio appealed for reconciliation with history and to look forward to a future based on the firm foundation of peace and brotherhood.

Rio also acknowledged KET setup by British Veterans of the Battle of Kohima, for preserving the legacy in true spirit of remembrance, reconciliation and rebirth.

At the end of World War II, the creation of a new world based on shared ideals of cooperation and working together had led the world to what it was today, said Rio. He also said Nagaland was working with Japan not only on technologically-challenging projects, but also partnering with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for various development projects.

Rio remarked “Your war ended here in our land whilst ours began”, while pointing to many years of hardship and suffering. He sought everyone’s support for the ceasefire as the peace talks had begun . He also sought everyone’s support in quest of realising genuine peace for a “shared and harmonious future”.

“Today, as we reflect with gratitude the services and sacrifices of so many, we also realise the value peace has for all of us. We are indeed grateful to our soldiers for having kept us safe. We thank you and respect you for your service. Peace and reconciliation is the way forward,” Rio added.

Rio also flagged off the “Remembrance Bike Rally” on the occasion.

Highlights of the programme included cultural presentations, pipe and drums- ‘ode to the fallen’ and special song ‘Lu Keva’. Earlier, the opening remarks was delivered by state chief secretary, Temjen Toy and the closing remarks by Dr. P Ngully of KES.

The programme was chaired by Narola Chuba.

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