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Britain honors ex-Japanese military interpreter for peace role.

OKAYAMA, Japan, April 5 Kyodo

The British government presented a letter of appreciation on Friday to a man who served as a Japanese military interpreter during World War II for his postwar role in making efforts to reconcile Japan with its former British prisoners of war (POWs).

British Ambassador to Japan Stephen Gomersall presented the letter to 84-year-old Takashi Nagase at a ceremony at a hotel in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture.

Nagase witnessed the forced construction of a railway in Southeast Asia set up by the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII.

Nagase said he had witnessed the army torture British POWs, and expressed amazement over what he calls Britain's spirit of magnanimity.

Nagase, who is a resident of Kurashiki, was posted at the railroad site linking Thailand and Myanmar, where 13,000 Allied POWs and tens of thousands of Asian workers died during forced labor.

After the war and to this day, Nagase continues to pay tribute to many POWs who died along the 415-kilometer railway.

In 1976, he organized a meeting of reconciliation between the former Japanese army members and POWs. Together with about 20 former British and Australian POWs and Japanese military members, Nagase crossed over the ''death'' railroad bridge on River Kwai in Thailand.

The railway construction was made famous in the 1957 film, ''The Bridge on the River Kwai.''
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Apr 8, 2002
Words:222
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