Members of Japanese community join Kranji event to mark 70th anniversary of end of WWII

SINGAPORE - Representatives from 10 countries involved in the Pacific theatre of the war, including invading nation Japan, attended a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII on Saturday.

The event was held by The Changi Museum at Kranji War Cemetery.

It was the first time such a large group of about 20 members of the Japanese community here had attended the ceremony, last held in 2005 for the 60th anniversary.

Mr Haruhisa Takeuchi, Japan's Ambassador to Singapore, was also the first of the foreign dignitaries to lay a wreath of poppies at the foot of the Kranji War Memorial.

Next to the flowers, members of the Japanese community placed strings of 1,500 colourful paper cranes symbolising peace, made by students of the Japanese schools here.

Speaking at the ceremony, the guest of honour, National University of Singapore law professor Walter Woon, said: "To ignore the grim lessons of history is to dishonour the memory of the thousands of men and women who lie here around us."

Mr Jeya Ayadurai, the director of The Changi Museum, called the event a "world first" in terms of reconciling former combatants, given the unprecedented Japanese presence at the ceremony. He said: "It takes courage to go to war. Likewise, it takes courage to make peace."

Mr Takahashi Yushin, 45, one of the ceremony's Japanese guests, said: "I was very moved to see so many people at this event. "

The educator, who has lived here for eight years, said: "The cranes represent our dedication to maintaining world peace and show what we are willing to do to keep it." oliviaho@sph.com.sg