In an historic event the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressed the Australian Parliament I think to seek closer ties between the two countries. These ties of course include valuable trade deals and increased tourism. His father, Shintaro Abe, was a former foreign minister of Japan who visited Australia to seek trade deals many years ago.
In a very frank speech spoken in English Mr Abe both acknowledged and apologised for the many atrocities that were committed in WW2 particularly the death marches of Sandakan.
from the Australian War Memorial the following summary of those death marches:
“Australian prisoners were sent to Sandakan in 1942 to build an airstrip. At first they were treated reasonably well. Gradually, however, rations were reduced and bashings increased.
By late 1944, with Allied forces advancing toward Borneo, the Japanese decided to send about 2,000 Australian and British prisoners westward to Ranau, in Borneo’s rugged interior. Weak and sick prisoners staggered for about 260 kilometres along jungle tracks. Many died on the way, their bodies never recovered. Those unable to continue were killed; those too weak to march had been left behind in Sandakan, where all died or were killed. Only six – all Australians – out of about a thousand sent to Ranau survived the war.
The Sandakan “death march” remains the greatest single atrocity committed against Australians in war.”
These graphic images tell the story.
I’m sorry if the images offended anyone but in remembering our history we hope not to continue to repeat its lessons.
Or to quote the classics “To know nothing of what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child. ” – Cicero
“Lest we forget”