Strengthening Ties Between Japan-Nagaland: Kohima Peace Memorial Inaugurated - Eastern Mirror
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Strengthening ties between Japan-Nagaland: Kohima Peace Memorial inaugurated

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By Thejoto Nienu Updated: May 08, 2024 7:35 pm
Kohima Peace Memorial
Hiroshi Suzuki, Neiphiu Rio, other Japanese delegates and Nagaland government officials on Wednesday. (EM Images)

KOHIMA — The Chief Minister of Nagaland, Neiphiu Rio, and the Japanese Ambassador to India, Hiroshi Suzuki, inaugurated the Kohima Peace Memorial and laid the foundation stone for an Eco-Park in Kohima on Wednesday.

This event marks a significant milestone in the partnership between Nagaland and Japan, transitioning from a past marked by conflict to a present focused on peace and collaboration, Rio said during the inauguration.

Ambassador Hiroshi Suzuki of Japan reflected on the painful shared history between Nagaland and Japan, acknowledging the devastation caused by the Battle of Kohima during World War II.

Stating that the Japanese people deem the Battle of Kohima and the Battle of Imphal, as one of the most disastrous battles in World War II, he expressed deep remorse for the suffering endured by the Naga people, who were caught in the crossfire between the Japanese and the British Commonwealth forces, and offered condolences to all victims of the war.

 “This monument enables us to stand here in solemn silence, and offer our most sincere prayers to all the victims of the battle. I extend my deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the people of Nagaland who had to endure indescribable sufferings brought forth by the Battle of Kohima,” he said.

Despite the tragic past, Ambassador Suzuki highlighted the remarkable generosity and compassion shown by the Naga people towards Japanese veterans and their families who visited Kohima to collect the remains of fallen soldiers. He said that the Kohima-Japan Bone Collection Team is making great efforts to help the Japanese government in collecting the remains of the soldiers, and expressed gratitude to the people of Nagaland for their magnanimous generosity.

“This generosity has fostered a new friendship between Japan and Nagaland,” said Suzuki, adding that donations were raised from Japanese veterans of the Battle of Kohima and their families to help build the Kohima Cathedral.

Further, he said that the Eco-Park, which will be developed as part of the Nagaland Forest Management Project with Official Development Assistance (ODA) from the Japanese government, symbolises the growing friendship between Japan and Nagaland and offers a space for relaxation and enjoyment.

Another chapter of friendship is being fostered, with many young people from Nagaland starting to travel to Japan for skill training and job opportunities, he said, adding that the Naga youths building good reputation in Japan and the Japanese host companies are keen to welcome more of them.

In this connection, he encouraged more Naga youths to take the Japanese language course now offered in Kohima, and seize skill training and job opportunities in Japan.

Expressing gratitude to the chief minister, and all the people of Nagaland for erecting the Peace Memorial, he also viewed that the memorial will invite more Japanese people to visit Kohima in the future.

The friendship originally fostered through the remains collection between Japan and Nagaland will be further strengthened through the construction of Eco-Park as well as the exchange of young people, and they will become new bridges between India and Japan, he added.

Growing cultural exchange and collaboration

Recalling his visits to the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima, Rio highlighted the shared experience of war and its devastating consequences for both Nagas and Japanese. “It is these bitter experiences that have made us realise the importance of propagating peace around the world”, he said, expressing his belief that both communities are actively working towards becoming ambassadors of peace.

The chief minister noted the increasing influence of Japanese culture in Nagaland, particularly among the youth, and expressed admiration for Japan’s dedication and work ethic, which has led to remarkable achievements. He also mentioned the long-standing association between Nagaland and Japan, starting from the efforts for recovery and repatriation of war casualties nearly five decades ago, and how it has now matured into bi-lateral cooperation with ongoing projects in forestry and medical sectors in the state supported by Japan.

On the cultural front, the GENESIS programme is under implementation through which the youths of Nagaland are receiving opportunities to experience the rich culture of Japan, he said, adding that this initiative would play a vital role in strengthening ties and pave the way for more meaningful partnerships.

Stating that Nagaland is at the forefront of the government of India’s Act East Policy, Rio went on to say that the state has entered a memorandum of understanding to establish a Centre of Excellence for Foreign Languages, with Japanese being the first language offered.

He informed that the course would start in a month’s time, and assured the Japanese delegation of Nagaland’s commitment to best practices and transparency in project implementation.

He also said that the state has undertaken several measures and have put in place systems to improve ‘ease of doing business’ in the state, and acknowledged the government of Japan, JICA and others for their pro-active engagement and co-operation with Nagaland.

Stronger ties forge through the park

Rio said that the Eco-Park, once completed, will serve as a vital urban space and a testament to the growing partnership between Japan and Nagaland.

“It will strengthen bonds, enhance bilateral ties; increase people-to-people contact and open opportunities for the citizens of the two countries to always pursue common goals”, he said.

He informed that the park will have outlets for entrepreneurship and livelihood initiatives, spaces that celebrate the rich cuisine and unique food, as well as spaces for performance and facilities for exercise, fitness, and recreation. It will become a meeting point not just of people but a breeding ground for ideas, he added.

Further, he said that the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Kohima is being commemorated this year, and the state government has planned a number of events. Stating that other countries including the United Kingdom and the United States of America will be involved in the events, he expressed hope that Japan would also be part of the programmes.

Rio also expressed delight that the Ambassador of Japan has given his commitment to come back to Nagaland for the Hornbill Festival, and hoped that many more delegates would visit the state again.

On the occasion, a short speech was delivered by Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Village Guards, CL John.

The ambassador and his entourage also visited the Kohima War Cemetery, laid wreaths and paid tribute to the fallen heroes. They also visited the Kohima Cathedral and the WWII Museum at the Naga Heritage Village, Kisama.

This was followed by a visit to Kohima village where they held a short discussion with village elders and members.

Also read: Japanese Ambassador on two-day Nagaland visit to strengthen ties

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By Thejoto Nienu Updated: May 08, 2024 7:35:20 pm
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