Thirty three years ago this peaceful countryside in north Thailand was the scene of hate, despair and death.
Thirty three years ago this peaceful countryside in north Thailand was the scene of hate, despair and death. For it was then that Japanese prisoners of war constructed the Thai-Burma railway, which at this point crossed the River Kwai.
The conditions under which the railway was constructed cost the lives of more than fifty thousand prisoners and left memories of hate and bitterness.
But a former Japanese guard on the railway construction, Mr. Takashi Nagase, and an Australian, Mr. Lance Lowe, decided that the time had come to end the lingering hate. The two men organised this remembrance service attended by forty two Japanese ex guards and ten of their former allied prisoners. The widows of several former prisoners also attended the ceremony.
However, the service failed to completely erase the bitter memories of those who survived the building of the railway. The Far East British Prisoners of War Organisation refused to attend the service. Only one former British prisoner, journalist Donald Wise, made the journey to the Bridge on the River Kwai. Wise said it was time to end the hating.
Mr. Nagase also came up against opposition in Japan while arranging the reunion. The former guard said the Japanese Foreign Ministry contacted him four times in an attempt to stop the ceremony from being held.
The Australian -co-organiser of the ceremony, Mr. Lowe, walked across the bridge arm in arm with Mr. Nagase.