Correspondent IMPHAL, June 22 - A war museum called Imphal Peace Museum was today inaugurated to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Imphal, which is often regarded as one of the fiercest battles of World War II, at Maibam Lokpa Ching – popularly known as the Red Hill, 20 km south west of Imphal in Bishnupur district.
Members of two delegations from Japan and UK pose for a photograph in Imphal. – Photo: Imphal Correspondent
The museum, which has been developed with the support of the Nippon Foundation, will exhibit artillery shells and other items collected by locals, valuable personal notes and photographs donated by those who fought and survived the battle, and other relics.
Manipur Revenue Minister Karam Shyam, Ambassador of Japan to India Kenji Hiramatsu, High Commissioner of UK Dominic Asquith, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation Yohei Sasakawa, and MLAs Dr S Ranjan and N Loken attended the formal inauguration function at the newly opened hall of the Imphal Peace Museum.
Around 80 representatives of Japanese companies in India, including Japanese family members of war victims and a British delegation, also attended the function which was held under the theme, ‘Peace and Reconciliation’.
Urging that the Imphal Peace Museum should preserve the legacy of those who lost their lives during the war that took place 75 years ago, British envoy Dominic Asquith said: “As our nations today work together in close partnership to protect global freedom, we say together that we will remember them.”
In his speech, Yohei Sasakawa, chairman of the Nippon Foundation, said: “I myself experienced the miseries of war as I miraculously survived the Tokyo air raid amid raging flames. Since then I have lived with a strong desire to work for a world where everyone lives in peace and security.”
He said the Imphal Peace Museum is a living memory of the tragic war, and that it would be a bridge to pass a peaceful world on to the next generation.
A framed calligraphy of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with the word, ‘Peace’ or ‘Heiwa’ in Japanese, was also jointly unveiled during the day’s function.
Acknowledging the support of the local residents in developing the museum, the Japanese Ambassador admitted that he is impressed by the museum.
The museum is located at the foothills of the historic Red Hill, where the British soldiers clashed with the advancing Japanese army during World War II.
In the morning, both the British and Japanese envoys paid floral tributes at the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Imphal.
In the Battle of Imphal, the Japanese army suffered a disastrous defeat after failing to ensure reinforcements and supplies. Around 30,000 Japanese soldiers were killed and a similar number were reported wounded – not just in the fierce fighting but also due to starvation, disease and exhaustion during the retreat.