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Japan, Nagaland join hands in construction of Kohima Peace Memorial commemorating World War II

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Kohima, May 8 (PTI) Ambassador of Japan to India, Suzuki Hiroshi and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Wednesday inaugurated the Kohima Peace Memorial, laid the foundation stone of the Eco-Park and also planted tree saplings here.

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The Japanese government has come forward to construct the memorial and eco-park commemorating World War II. The Battle of Kohima was fought between Japanese and British Indian forces from April 4 to June 10, 1944.

Suzuki said, “Eighty years ago, this peaceful and beautiful land of Nagaland became, all of a sudden, engulfed in the ravages of war between the Japanese Forces and the British Commonwealth Forces.” The people of Nagaland, who had nothing to do with the war, inevitably had to go through a great ordeal, he said.

"Many were coerced into cooperation; so many people lost their lives or got injured under the crossfire; most people were forced to flee from the land of their ancestors,” Suzuki said.

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For the Japanese people, the Battle of Kohima is remembered, along with the Battle of Imphal, as one of the most disastrous battles in World War II, he said.

Expressing deep gratitude to the people of Nagaland for their magnanimous generosity extended to the Japanese people who had come back to collect the remains of their families, the envoy said “this generosity has fostered a new friendship between Japan and Nagaland.” Next to the Kohima Peace Memorial, an Eco-Park is going to be developed as part of the Nagaland Forest Management Project with ODA from the Japanese Government, he said.

Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said, “Today is a very important milestone in the narrative of Naga-Japan partnership, as ours was an association that started under the cloud of conflict but has today matured into one advocating peace and brotherhood of humanity.” Nagas have always felt a very close connection to the Japanese people and in recent times the state is witnessing the increasing influence of Japanese culture especially among the youth, he said.

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Nagaland’s close association with Japan started almost five decades ago through the Japan Association for the Recovery and Repatriation of War Casualties, an association that continues even to this day, he said.

Rio assured a Japanese delegation that Nagaland would take every possible step to ensure best practices and transparent standards in carrying out the projects.

Suzuki and Rio also planted tree saplings marking the foundation laying of the Eco-Park. PTI NBS NBS NN

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