IMPHAL, May 29: Even though 71 years have passed since the Battle of Imphal was fought, the name of Imphal is still deeply rooted in the minds of the Japanese, and in fact Japanese groups still make memorial pilgrimage to Manipur every year.
This was stated by Takeshi Yagi, the Ambassador of Japan to India, during the commemoration of the 71st Anniversary of Battle of Imphal World War II and the Anniversary Ceremony of the `Battle of Red Hill Aka Point 2926` held today at Maibam Lotpa Ching.
The commemoration was also attended by the Australian High Commissioner to India Patrick Suckling and Chief Minister of the State Okram Ibobi Singh.
The Japanese Ambassador further extended his gratitude to the Manipur Tourism Forum, 2nd World War Imphal Campaign Foundation and Manipur Government for organizing such commemoration adding that he pay his tribute to the great heroes who fought in the battle of Imphal.
`Standing on this ground I am deeply pained to think of those who have experience extraordinary hardship. We should not forget that one of the harshest Battle of WW-II was fought in Imphal`, he said.
He thanked all the organisations and people of Manipur in particular for preserving and taking excellent care of the prayer memorial sites for such a long time including the Indian Peace Memorial which was constructed by government of Japan in the year 1994.
The Japanese Ambassador asserted that throughout its post war history Japan, filled with remorse over the war and bearing in mind that `our action`™ brought sufferings to people in Asian countries, has been contributing for the cause of peace and prosperity and further resolved to continue to do so in the future.
Japan and India have achieved very friendly and co-operative relationship particularly in recent years, he said adding that the interaction between the two nations have significantly expanded and deepened.
As for the North Eastern region of India, Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe had agreed in September last year to place special emphasis on Japan`™s corporation for enhanced connectivity in North East India and making this region an economic corridor for India and South East Asia, he maintained.
The Japanese government is already conducting technical studies of road networking programmes which include some roads in Manipur and as for other upcoming projects we hope that in co-ordination with the Centre and relevant State government our co-operation in this strategically important region will be further enhanced, continued the Japanese Ambassador.
Delivering his speech Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh said `We have heard of countless tales from our own parents and grandparents of that dramatic period when we found ourselves in the midst of one of the greatest battles of the Second World War`.
It is therefore incumbent on us, the people of Manipur to ensure that this fascinating chapter of our own history, which uniquely connects us to many countries around the world, is remembered he observed adding that the 71st Anniversary Commemoration of Battle of Imphal is a key step.
At the same time, the government of Manipur is pleased to be supporting the initiative, he asserted.
According to the Chief Minister, Manipur`™s experience of the WW-II and its related heritage and assets, cemeteries, museums, memorials, battlefields, airfields, bunkers and trenches can be of interest to the people from around the world.
Not just for the families of soldiers and others who were here during the war, but even for others, such as students, scholars, military, enthusiasts, tourists interested in history, general tourists etc., the Chief Minister observed.
He maintained that the challenges for us for the future then 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 continued that the historical importance with the natural beauty Manipur as one of the best Tourist Destination not only in North East but also in India in attracting the tourist from India and aboard.
The State government will support in preserving these heritage sites as well as to promote the tourism potential of the State, he said.
The Chief Minister also extended his gratitude to the Manipur Tourism Forum and the 2nd World War Imphal Campaign Foundation for organizing the magnificent event.
Australian High Commissioner to India, Patrick Suckling found it amazing, the interest of India in commemorating and remembering the sacrifices and services of the Indian forces that fought in great wars.
He said that the role of Australia in WW-II especially in Imphal was focused in the air.
`Our forces flew in supplies and flew out injured soldiers. Altogether 12 thousands injured soldiers were flown out`, he said.
Patrick asserted that as per accounts of the soldiers, the fighting was very hard and the circumstance were tough besides the unforgiving hot weather adding that the Battle of Imphal was a significant battle in the WW-II.
Every year when Australians gather to commemorate the battle it was out of humility `We do so not to glorify war, not to commemorate victory, we do so to remember the horrors of war and to commit ourselves not to enter into such horrific conflicts`, continued Patrick adding that now Australia and Japan once rival are looking towards peaceful measures.
As a part of the commemoration ceremony befitting floral tributes was also paid at the Indian Peace Memorial.
The Chief Minister of Manipur, the Ambassador of Japan to India and the Australian High Commissioner to India jointly unveiled the Memorial Plaque inscribed with the story of the `Battle of Red Hill Aka Point 2926`.