The 75th anniversary of the Battle of Kohima was observed by the Nagaland government on Thursday with representatives from the UK and Japan speaking on the theme of 'Remembrance, Reconciliation and Rebirth'. The dignitaries from the UK and Japan assembled at the programme to seek "reconciliation and forgiveness" for the "sufferings and pain" caused against each other at the Battle of Kohima, that was fought in three stages during the Second World War in 1944.
Recounting the loss of "thousands of precious lives" in the battle, Ambassador of Japan to India, Kenji Hiramatsu, said the peace "we enjoy today was built over tremendous sacrifices". He said Japan stands committed to "never repeat the devastation of the war".
Noting that relations of the countries which "once fought with each other" have been "transformed for the good", he said, "genuine reconciliation is only possible through dedicated efforts by us all." The Japanese envoy said the relationship between Japan and the Northeastern region has become "substantially closer". Two years ago, the 'Act East Forum' was started to help accelerate the development of the region and the people-to-people exchanges, particularly among the youth, he said.
British High Commissioner to India, Dominic Anthony Gerard Asquith said, "We are here to remember the British, Indian and Commonwealth service personnel who lost their lives during the battle, together with the Naga non-combatants who died valiantly supporting the successful defence of the Kohima Ridge against a numerically superior force." Asquith said India, Japan and the UK stand together as "three great democracies" to work with each other for peace and prosperity globally and committed to facing today's challenges. Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio recalled that Kohima was the theatre of the War in 1944 and the Nagas were drawn into it on both sides some with the British and some with the Japanese.
"The relationship with the UK and Japan over the last 75 years stands as a model of the power of reconciliation," he said. The 75th anniversary of the Battle of Kohima will be a yearlong celebration, Rio said.
Rio said post the Second World War, the Nagas were witness to "more wars and bloodshed". However, the past two decades have been peaceful and Nagaland is moving forward on the path of development, he said.
(With inputs from agencies.)