29th POW Memorial Ceremony, Hodogaya

Captain Colin Williams

Defence Attache, British Embassy

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great honour for me to stand in front of you and extend a warm welcome to this service and to share in this important day of remembrance and reconciliation.

On 2nd September 1945 the formal surrender of the Imperial Japanese Forces was accepted, bringing to an end one of the most destructive and painful periods in world history, where a truly global conflict pitted former Allies, friends and even families against each other, exposing humankinds frailties and weaknesses in the most brutal of manners.

We gather here today to commemorate just one of those groups of heroes and heroines; the sailors, soldiers, aviators and let us not forget the civilian population of the some 36,000 Prisoners of War transported to Japan during the Pacific War. With the increasing demand to maintain the war effort on multiple fronts, the Imperial Japanese Government felt compelled to use captured personnel in Japan to supplement their dwindling work force. The Prisoners of War were routinely treated harshly, worked in arduous conditions and deprived of basic humane care; I do not say this to shame but to explain why these commemoration services are so important.

Some of our youngest, most precious and treasured lie here in Hodogaya. This beautiful, peaceful and solemn place commemorates nearly 2000 of them; 53 of whom remain unidentified. They responded to the call to arms and came from across the Commonwealth, The United States and from free Europe; and tragically most commemorated here died whilst Prisoners of War where safety should have been assured.

We should not forget the depths to which we can sink and sadly, as we are now seeing once again in Europe, those basest of human instincts are coming to the fore. The illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia, is one more instance where standing by can not be accepted, support in all its forms is required and will eventually lead to Ukraine’s successful re-establishing of it’s borders. But just like here in the Pacific War, the hurt and anger of both uniformed and civilian populations will come to the surface and we will have another generation of people harbouring resentment and anguish over their losses and the futility of the war; exactly like we saw from the experiences here in the Pacific. It is beholden on all of us to continue to support Ukraine as they come to terms and, in time, start their commemoration and reconciliation process amongst themselves and with the Russian people.

This year marks the 29th memorial service for the POWs who died in Japan during WW2. Here, peace and reconciliation are our goal. Let us ensure that we all stand as witnesses to their lives, not to be seen as futile and cut short, but lives that live on forever, remembered and honoured for the sacrifice’s they made to give us the peace that we now enjoy. Let their lives and this place serve as a reminder to us all that peace is precious, that it should be cherished and nurtured, and that on occasion we are prepared to stand together and shoulder the burden of protecting that most precious peace. 

第29回英連邦戦没捕虜追悼礼拝 保土ヶ谷









第2次世界大戦中に日本で亡くなった捕虜の追悼礼拝は、今年で29回目を迎えます。平和と和解が私たちの目標です。私たちは皆、彼らの命の証人としてしっかりと立ち上がりましょう。彼らの命は、無益で短く断ち切られたものとみなされるのではなく、永遠に生き続け、私たちが現在享受している平和をもたらすために彼らが払った犠牲の上に記憶され、称えられるのです。 彼らの命とこの場所が、平和が尊いものであること、平和は大切にされ、育まれるべきものであること、そして時として、私たちは共に立ち上がり、その最も尊い平和を守る重責を担う用意があることを、私たち全員に思い起こさせるものとなるように致しましょう。