Monday, 30th October 2017

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Peace call from World War II battlefield

Japanese and Australian envoys take part in the 71st anniversary of Red Hill war in Manipur

By Khelen Thokchom in Imphal
  • Published 30.05.15
Japanese ambassador to India Takeshi Yagi pays floral tributes at Maibam Lotpa Ching near Imphal on Friday. Picture by UB Photos

Imphal, May 29: Japan and Australia, which took part in some fierce gun battles in World War II, today took the pledge to continue to spread the message of world peace during a war commemoration programme in Manipur, now a theatre of insurgency.

The Japanese ambassador to India Takeshi Yagi and Australian high commissioner to India Patrick Suckling attended the 71st anniversary of battle of Red Hill (in World War II) in Manipur's Bishnupur district, organised at a war site at Maibam Lotpa Ching, 17km south of Imphal, today.

The battle for controlling the hill began on May 21 and ended on May 29 in 1944. To commemmorate the battle, Japanese war veterans constructed a peace park at the foot of Red Hill. It was held at the park named India Peace Memorial.

The programme was organised by Manipur Tourism Forum and Second World War Imphal Campaign, NGOs campaigning for making Manipur a war-tourism hub.

"We also deployed thousands of soldiers in India during World War II. Countries are realising the adverse impact of war. We have good relations with India and working together for peace and security in the Southeast Asian region," Suckling said.

Joining the call for world peace, Yagi said, "Imphal battle is regarded as one of the fiercest World War II fights. Today Japan has realised the destruction caused by war and we are working for world peace. We will continue to work for it."

Stating that India and Japan enjoy good relations and cooperation, he said Japan had agreed to expand relations with India and also lay special emphasis on improving connectivity and other schemes in the Northeast.

Those gathered at the peace park paid floral tributes to those killed in the battle.

The park includes a memorial stone for Japanese soldiers who died in the Imphal battle.

Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh announced his government's plan to develop the state as a destination not only for relatives of those soldiers killed but also for students, historians, scholars, and war enthusiasts, besides general tourists.

"The challenge for us in the future will be to see how we can tell the story of what happened in Manipur during the war and develop and present its related heritage in a way that makes it interesting and attractive for visitors to explore," Ibobi Singh said.

He also promised to work with the two NGOs (Manipur Tourism Forum and Second World War Imphal Campaign) to make Manipur the best tourist destination in India.