national

Japanese, British 'Death Railway' veterans meet in reconciliation

34 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2015 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

34 Comments
Login to comment

I beat the shite out of ya back then, Now give us a kiss and we'll do "knees up Mother Brown"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I feel like Japan, as the aggressor, tends to get better PR out of such stories than their erstwhile victims. Or at least it can be spun that way. And it will be.

7 ( +17 / -10 )

Conscripted into service, [Kinoshita] said he did not experience violence on his section of the line working with Australian POWs, but when he heard of the “cruel conditions” elsewhere, he felt “deeply saddened.”

It seems highly doubtful that Kinoshita didn't witness violence toward the Australian POWs he "worked with." At best, this is probably a case of selective memory.

His claim would certainly be more credible if the Australian POWs themselves were to say it.

4 ( +14 / -10 )

“We should, I think, remind ourselves that wars are not made by soldiers but by governments,” he said.

I couldn't agree more with this statement.

Its great that these men are able to meet all this years later without any bitterness. Whilst we should never forget the events of past wars to respect the dead and to never repeat those mistakes. Everyone should find the strength to forgive and move on.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Peace.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

“When I consider the war, regardless of the winners or losers, there are only victims. I heartily hope that such sorrow will not be repeated ever again.”

If you don't want them repeated, stop voting for a PM who will repeat them

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“We should, I think, remind ourselves that wars are not made by soldiers but by governments,” he said.

Not very reassuring, when we have a historical revisionist, as the head of government.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

Touching story. Good for them.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

If more people were like Kinoshita than none of this would likely have ever happened in the first place, or if it had there would have been far more reparations and healing than there is. Instead, we have lawmakers who have claimed that things like the Death Railway and Baatan Death March were 'exaggerated' and Japan did not kill POWs, etc. And we have the government setting up the nation for a repeat.

“We should, I think, remind ourselves that wars are not made by soldiers but by governments,” he said.

Absolutely -- that's why this nation is in grave danger.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Conscripted into service, he said he did not experience violence on his section of the line working with Australian POWs, but when he heard of the “cruel conditions” elsewhere, he felt “deeply saddened.”

So he didn't see any on the 113.000 or more who died alomg the length of the railroad? It is said that each wooden sleeper the tracks rested on cost one human life. Those who died during work were "buried" in graves only 10cm deep, as the Japanese would not allow time to dig deeper graves. Those who died in the camps every night of cholera, dysentary, or malria were cremated every morning. The German death camps were less efficient at killing than the Thailand/Burma railroad. One would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind, and have no sense of smell not to know that human beings were being killed by the hundreds every day. Rather than feeling saddened, he should feel unbearably shamed.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

These two men should harvest nothing but hatred for each other. (well the Brit guy at least) One forced to work almost to death. The other (possibly) forced to make the other work with little food or medical attention. The fact they don't and have managed to put the past behind them speaks volumes. Which begs the question...If these guys can forgive, then why can't everyone else? Least we not forget...but we can forgive!

13 ( +14 / -1 )

I'm sure that he did witness death from sickness and exhaustion but it is just about feasible that he didn't witness beatings or executions.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Where is Alec Guinness? Seriously though, what do all of these former soldiers (especially Japanese veterans) think of Abe's state secrecy law and attempts to change Japan's constitution, etc. I would really value their opinions.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Remember Angelina Jolie was called evil for making a movie about the Japanese mistreating US POW's. The Japanese actor who played the evil camp guard is blacklisted in Japan.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

I'm sure that he did witness death from sickness and exhaustion but it is just about feasible that he didn't witness beatings or executions.

@Spanki

I think not.

What exactly caused the POWs to work themselves to the point of death from exhaustion? The answer is obviously the real and daily threat of beatings and executions.

So, while Kinoshita was "working with" the Australians, as @sangetsu03 pointed out, he "would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind, and have no sense of smell not to know that human beings were being killed by the hundreds every day. Rather than feeling saddened, he should feel unbearably shamed."

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I'm sure that he did witness death from sickness and exhaustion but it is just about feasible that he didn't witness beatings or executions.

Every POW was beaten, there were no exceptions. The taller POW's received the worst of the beatings, for some reason the Japanese felt a special antipathy toward the tall (likely because they, on average, were short). The beatings occurred every day, in every camp. To POW's, beatings were more regular than meals. Executions were less common toward the end of the war as slave laborers were in demand. The Japanese would not pay people to work for them, not that they could, Japanese military currency was worthless at the time, only dollars and British pounds had negotiable value. Of course, if you were Chinese, you were subject to execution (usually preceded by some form of torture) at any time. The sight of Chinese heads stuck on the end of poles was a common enough site at any Japanese camp.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

If these guys can forgive, then why can't everyone else?

Because this Japanese asked for forgiveness despite he says he didn't see the abuses personally. He admitted Japan's guilt. Also this story doesn't mention it, but in another article this Brit said he had a deep hatred of the Japanese until he met this Japanese man who apologized for his country. So why can't Japanese admit and apologize to their fellow Asians for a change, and not just apologize to the British POW's and the Dutch comfort women?

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

The Japanese actor who played the evil camp guard is blacklisted in Japan.

I highly doubt Miyavi cares; he makes enough money from his music. And to be honest, based on his performance in that movie, he should stick to his music.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

“We should, I think, remind ourselves that wars are not made by soldiers but by governments,” he said

Take heed Abé-chan... Right now, you're moving in the wrong direction...

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Another example of Japanese seeking the understanding of Westerners while dismissing the suffering of other Asians.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Take heed Abé-chan... Right now, you're moving in the wrong direction...

So true. Somebody needs to remind him that if you export war, you import terrorism.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

These are the appalling numbers, out of a total approximately 81,000 POW's, more than 61,000 where laboured along 250 miles of the railway, about 30,000 were British, 18,000 were Dutchmen or Indonesian Dutch, 13,000 were Australian and about 650 American. If the war had lasted another year there would not have been a single POW left alive. The Imperial Japanese Army committed unspeakable atrocities.

Mikio Kinoshita, 94, purporting not of have experienced any violence on his section of the line, carefully omitting any reference to witnessing the prisoners building the railway by hand, 1060 Australian men dying out of 7000 within 5 days of emerging from thirteen trains.

None the less the pictures are heart-warming.

Keiichi Hayashi, Japan’s ambassador to Britain....

Their friendship symbolises the kind of relationship our two countries have managed to cultivate over many years. Bitter enemies can make good friends after understanding each other.

Clearly in the case of Mikio Kinoshita, 94, and former prisoner of war (POW) Harold Atcherley, 96, unarguably so.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

To be honest, it's great the British gentleman can forgive his slave laborers. If the shoe was on the other foot I'm not sure if there would be forgiveness. The culture that caused this was that anything different is bad and it's a shame to see that archaic thinking still around in 21st Century Tokyo today sometimes.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If only the instruments --the soldiers-- of a few select mad men's intentions to reap havoc would collectively say, 'No'.

Peace to these men. Peace to all men. Peace to you.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hats off to the British guy. He's a better man than me.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

There are still British survivors who found it impossible to forgive any Japanese.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Yeah, it's crazy that Miyabi is blacklisted in Japan for honestly portraying what Japanese were like to their POWs, and that was even mild by some stories. I remember the wingers here SCREAMING at Angelina Jolie and threatening her, and saying Japan never did those things when they were all from true stories, even the part where they would liquidize the POWs if the lost the area and were going to be overrun. In the movie they are "invited to take a bath in the river", and would have been executed en masse if the Americans had not been faster to swoop in. There are reports of that happening, both by POWs and by former IJA, but it is denied by people who are ashamed despite never being there. Same with this Death Railroad... you have people saying, "Oh, it wasn't that bad!", etc.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Papi2013, but in another article this Brit said he had a deep hatred of the Japanese until he met this Japanese man who apologized for his country. So why can't Japanese admit and apologize to their fellow Asians for a change, and not just apologize to the British POW's and the Dutch comfort women? I can't blame the British guy at all !! In their minds, the Japanese are a nobility, how can they sink so low and apologise to nobodies. For quite a while they've been painting all other Asians as inferior with terms like chongkoro, etamono, sangokujin e.t.c. Should one have listened to earlier Japanese historians,they'd notice how they always made it appear as though nothing ever was or happened in China, Korea e.t.c. UNTIL Japanese came along, when in truth , the reverse is true.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Henry Kissinger once said "“It is not often that nations learn from the past,even rarer that they draw the correct conclusions from it.” May young people heed these wise old boys words “We should, I think, remind ourselves that wars are not made by soldiers but by governments,” he said.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think it was up to Mr Atcherley to doubt Mr Kinoshita's claim of what he saw or didn't see. Mr Kinoshita was an engineer so possibly had little involvement with disciplining the labourers. Whatever, let such a friendship and others like it set an example.

-1 ( +1 / -1 )

The British occupied Burma from 1824 to 1945. During the Japanese occupation of Burma, the Japanese Imperialist troops killed 250,000 civilians. They cut off the food supplies causing the Bengal Famine in 1943 which killed 1.5 to 4 million people.

1 ( +3 / -1 )

Conscripted into service, he said he did not experience violence on his section of the line working with Australian POWs, but when he heard of the “cruel conditions” elsewhere, he felt “deeply saddened.”

and thanked everyone of them? Bull

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Wonderful story! I wish the Korean-Japanese relationship also improves like this.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You know, this guy may or may not be selectively recalling events when he says he never witnessed violence, and thanked his POWs every day - well never know. But the fact that at 94 he travelled all the way to London to clasp the hand of man who used to be his armys prisoner, and that man at 96 was able to hold his hand and forgive and both speak of the bond they have - I think in there is a lesson for all of today`s humanity.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites