Japan at war

It is with dismay and disappointment that I have learned this week that the Unesco World Heritage Committee is to consider an application by Japan to have 23 of its industrial sites recognised as World Heritage sites.

Among them are a significant number where, during the Second World War, thousands of Allied prisoners of war, including men of the Lanarkshire Yeomanry, slaved and died.

I am not suggesting that Japan should not celebrate the positive aspects of its history or culture but equally it should acknowledge the less savoury.

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At the World Heritage centre at New Lanark, the site of Robert Owen’s model factory, there is an obvious and clear reference to the less attractive aspects of child labour etc, but I understand that the Japanese intend to airbrush out the part played by the PoW slaves in their mines and factories.

Recent Japanese government criticism of Angelina Jolie’s poignant and thought-provoking film, Unbroken, was quick in coming and I wonder if the new application to Unesco was behind it.

The film depicts the cruelty and brutality that was meted out to PoWs at those sites and in this year which marks the 70th anniversary of VJ Day and the freeing of the PoWs from their horror, Japan should not be allowed to simply ignore a part of history which it does not like.

Agnes Dougan

Lanarkshire Yeomanry Memorial Group

Newmains, Lanarkshire