Stalingrad of the East Current Affairs - 2019

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Japan gifts Manipur a Peace Museum built on WWII memories

Japan gifted Manipur, one of India’s north eastern state a Museum of Peace built on the memories of Battle of Imphal, one of the fiercest battles of 2nd World War (WWII). The inauguration of Imphal Peace Museum marked 75th anniversary of Battle of Imphal.

Key Highlights

Location: The Imphal Peace Museum was inaugurated at Red Hill which lies about 20 km southwest of Imphal (Manipur capital).

Funding: The museum is funded by Nippon Foundation, a private, non-profit grant-making organization based in Japan.

Relics: Among the highlights of museum such as diaries and other memorabilia of those who returned to Japan safely, is a framed calligraphy by Shinzo Abe Japan’s Prime Minister, which reads heiwa- meaning peace in Japanese.

Why Red Hill?

About 70,000 Japanese soldiers, alongside those of Indian National Army (INA) of Subhash Chandra Bose, died in battles with British-led Allied forces in areas around Imphal and Kohima from March-June 1944. The last of these battles was fought at Red Hill in Imphal. In 1994 Japanese War Memorial was also built at Red Hill to mark 50th anniversary of battle.

Significance: Imphal Peace Museum symbolises the reconciliation between Japan and Britain and Japan and India. It will serve as a living memory of the tragic war which reinforces the message that history changes and will make the world learn from past which is required for a lasting peaceful world.

What is Battle of Imphal 1944?

Battle of Imphal took place in region around city of Imphal (Manipur’s capital) from March to July 1944. Japanese armies with an attempt to destroy Allied forces at Imphal invaded India, but were driven back into Burma (todays’ Myanmar) with heavy losses.

The Battle of Imphal together with simultaneous Battle of Kohima (also known as Stalingrad of the East) on road by which encircled Allied forces at Imphal were relieved, was the main turning point of 2nd World War’s Burma Campaign.

The Japanese faced the largest defeat up until that time at Kohima and Imphal with many of Japanese deaths resulting from starvation, disease and exhaustion suffered during their retreat.

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Nagaland observes 75th anniversary of Battle of Kohima

Nagaland observed the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Kohima. The event was attended by the representatives from the UK and Japan who spoke on the theme of ‘Remembrance, Reconciliation and Rebirth’.

The dignitaries from the UK and Japan sought reconciliation and forgiveness for the sufferings and pain caused against each other at the Battle of Kohima, that was fought in three stages during the Second World War in 1944.

Battle of Kohima

Battle of Kohima is considered as the turning point of the Japanese U Go offensive, or Operation C mission launched in India in 1944 during the Second World War. The Battle of Kohima was fought in three stages from 3 April to 22 June 1944 around the town of Kohima in Nagaland in northeast India:

  • From 3 to 16 April, the Japanese attempted to capture Kohima ridge, a feature which dominated the road by which the besieged British and Indian troops of IV Corps at Imphal were supplied. By mid-April, the small British and Indian force at Kohima was relieved.
  • From 18 April to 13 May, British and Indian reinforcements counter-attacked to drive the Japanese from the positions they had captured. The Japanese abandoned the ridge at this point but continued to block the Kohima–Imphal road.
  • From 16 May to 22 June, the British and Indian troops pursued the retreating Japanese and reopened the road. The battle ended on 22 June when British and Indian troops from Kohima and Imphal met at Milestone 109, ending the Siege of Imphal.

The battle is often referred to as the “Stalingrad of the East”. Kohima was the theatre of the War in 1944 and the Nagas were drawn into it on both sides some with the British and some with the Japanese.

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