By ANDREW FANASIA
BEREAVED Japanese families have lost one of their significant monuments in Honiara after the site was sold to JQY, an established business owned by Chinese.
Guadalcanal Province reportedly sold the land where the monument was built in the Alligator Creek area, east of Honiara, to JQY for a fisheries project.
But team leader of the Japan Association for Recovery and Repatriation of War Casualties (JARRWC) Kazuhiko Kurito said the decision was unfair and disappointing.
“The monument means a lot to us Japanese, in particular those of us who lost our loved ones during the war,” Kurito told the Solomon Star.
“With due respect to the landowners, the decision to sell the land was a slap on the face of all bereaved Japanese families,” he added.
“In our many visits to Honiara we use to bring in family members of Japanese fallen soldiers to visit that monument and also to do our rituals as we pay respect to them.
“But on Sunday last week when we went there to visit the monument, we were shocked that our access to the site was blocked because the whole land was fenced,” an emotional Kurita said.
He added local families who lived near the site and looked after it were also removed because the land was already sold.
Solomon Kitano Mendana Hotel Guest Relations Officer Francis Deve told the Solomon Star that particular monument was significant to the Japanese people because it is where they found the body of Japanese Colonel Kiyonao Ichiki in the early 80s.
Colonel Ichiki was an officer in the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. He commanded the 28th Infantry Regiment "Ichiki detachment" in the Battle of Tenaru.
His daughter travelled to Honiara at that time to pay respect to her father and the body was cremated at that particular spot that is why a monument was built on that part of the land.
Deve reiterated that this is a slap on the face of the people of Japan.
“At the moment JARRWC and other responsible authorities like the National Museum and Tourism want to resolve this issue so that the historical site is given back so the bereaved Japanese families can come and pay their respect there,” he said.
Toshio Mori, whose uncle died in the war during the battle of Guadalcanal, also told the Solomon Star that while they respect those who owned the land, they wanted the site where the monument was built to be spared.
“The monument means a lot to us,” Mori said.
When contacted, a spokesperson for JQY said the right person to talk to was at a meeting.
The Solomon Star understands that JARRWC is pursuing with others, including JQY, to resolve the issue amicably.