Kohima, 8 May (MTNews): Marking eight decades since the Battle of Kohima during World War II, where Nagas confronted Japanese soldiers, a chapter of reconciliation unfolded as Hiroshi Suzuki, Ambassador of Japan to India, inaugurated the Kohima Peace Memorial and Eco Park in Kohima, today.

rio Nagaland japan ambassador
Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio and Ambassador of Japan to India, Hiroshi Suzuki, at Kohima War Cemetery on Wednesday, 8 May. (DIPR photo)

The memorial and Eco Park, implemented with financial assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), stand as symbols of reconciliation and cooperation. The Japanese government’s support extends beyond this project, as it is also involved in implementing the Nagaland Forest Management Project and a healthcare initiative in the region.

“I am convinced that the friendship originally fostered through the remains collection between Japan and Nagaland will be further strengthened through the construction of the eco-park as well as the exchange of young people, and they will become new bridges between India and Japan,” Ambassador Hiroshi said.

Ambassador Hiroshi also acknowledged that Nagas were caught in the crossfire during the war between Japanese forces and the British Commonwealth Forces. He said that Nagas had nothing to do with the war, and were coerced into cooperation where many people lost their lives and most people were forced to flee from the land of their ancestors.

“I am deeply honored to witness the inauguration of the Kohima Peace Memorial here today and that the monument enabled us to offer our most solemn prayers to all the victims of the battle,” he said.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio hailed the event as a milestone in the evolving partnership between Nagaland and Japan, emphasizing its transformation from conflict to a shared commitment to peace and humanity, exemplified by the Kohima Peace Memorial.

The Japanese Ambassador later visited the Kohima war Cemetery and Kohima Cathedral, where mortal remains of many Japanese soldiers who had died during World War-II were also laid to rest. The Japanese Ambassador, Suzuki Hiroshi and his entourage also visited Kohima village and was showcased the traditional weaving, folk songs etc.

This development coincides with Northeast India’s increasing significance in Japan’s Indo-Pacific ambitions. Notably, the Act East Forum (AEF) 2017, initiated by Japan and India, aims to foster economic modernization in India’s Northeastern Region (NER) through various initiatives, including connectivity, infrastructure development, and people-to-people contacts in tourism, culture, and sports.

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