Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Death March – a different viewpoint

KOTA KINABALU: Academician Dr Richard Braithwaite stumbled upon an obscure book by a former Japanese serviceman when he was doing research on the infamous Sandakan Death March and other atrocities of World War II.

The adjunct professor at Australia's Southern Cross University learnt that only 100 copies of the book, titled Into the Jungles of Borneo and written by Ueno Itsuyoshi, were published 30 years ago.

Until then, virtually all accounts of the Death March that saw more than 400 Allied prisoners of war die along a treacherous trek from Sandakan to Ranau at the tail end of the war were written by Australians. Only six prisoners survived the march, including Braithwaite's father.

The academician teamed up with Japanese-born Australian primary school teaching assistant Mika Reilly to come out with an English version that was given the title An End to a War.

The translated book is produced by Kota Kinabalu-based publisher Opus Publications Sdn Bhd and was launched by state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun on Tuesday.

The Sandakan Death March was a series of forced marches which resulted in the deaths of more than 3,600 civilian slave labourers and the 400-odd Allied soldiers held by the Japanese at prison camps in North Borneo (now Sabah).

Of all the prisoners held at Sandakan and Ranau, only six Australians managed to escape.

It is widely considered to be the single-worst atrocity suffered by Australian servicemen during World War II.

Braithwaite said Itsuyoshi's book was not meant to burnish the actions of the Japanese soldiers in the Death March.

“He was telling what he saw from his perspective. And, from that, we know not all Japanese soldiers were evil.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: The Death March – a different viewpoint

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