Prince William pays respects to British PoWs at war graves in Japan

Duke of Cambridge follows in mother’s footsteps as he visits Commonwealth war graves, leaving a touching note


1:51AM GMT 27 Feb 2015

The Duke of Cambridge has paid his respects to British prisoners of war killed in Japan by laying a wreath at a Commonwealth War Graves cemetery outside Tokyo.


The Duke placed his floral tribute on a stone cross at the Yokohama War Cemetery with the hand-written message: “May we never forget all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. William.”


Image: telegraph.co.uk /Prince William visits Yokohama British Commonwealth War Cemetery Photo: Tim Rooke/REX

The cemetery holds the graves of 1,555 British and Commonwealth soldiers, sailors and airmen who died in the Second World War and 171 who died during the Allied occupation of Japan up to 1952. There are also the ashes of 335 men contained in a single bronze urn.

墓地には第2次世界大戦で犠牲になった1,555人の英連邦陸海空軍の兵士と、1952年までの連合国占領時代に亡くなった171 人が葬られている。また、335人の遺灰がひとつのブロンズ製壺に納められている。

Many of the dead were killed during Allied bombing raids on Tokyo towards the end of the war. Others were worked to their deaths in horrendous conditions in mines, factories and dockyards supplying Japan’s military machine.


During a brief ceremony that preceded the wreath-laying, the British Defence Attache Capt Charles Ashcroft said: “To understand the present we must acknowledge the past.


“If, as Churchill warned us, we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we will indeed find that we have lost the future.”


He continued the reconciliatory tone by talking of “the terrible losses that all our countries have suffered” and paying tribute to Japanese peacekeeping troops working in countries including Djibouti and South Sudan.


After placing his wreath, which he did at the end of two minutes’ silence, the Duke walked through the cemetery looking at the graves, which are small plaques on the ground rather than headstones, which would be prone to damage by earthquakes.


He was accompanied by Capt Ashcroft, as well as the US defence attache Capt James O’Leary and Col Tokuichi Maruyama, representing Japan.


The Duke, who wore his two military medals on his grey overcoat, concluded his visit by signing a visitors’ book, which had been placed next to a framed picture of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, laying a wreath at the same cemetery in 1995. Next to the picture were written the words: “May she rest in peace.”


Later, the Duke met Emperor Akihito and Empress Michio Akihito for a private lunch at the Gosho, or Imperial Residence, part of the Imperial estate in Tokyo.


The Duke, bowing from the neck as he shook hands with the 81-year-old Emperor and his 80-year-old wife, said: “Your Majesty, it’s very nice to see you again. Thank you for having me here. Fantastic.”



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