OKAYAMA, Japan - Takashi Nagase, a former Japanese military interpreter who was involved in the construction of the infamous Thailand-Burma railway during World War II and later engaged in philanthropic activities to atone for his wartime acts, died Tuesday at a hospital in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, his family said. He was 93.
The 415-kilometer railway is also known as the "Death Railway" as about 16,000 Allied prisoners of war, including British, Dutch and Australian nationals, as well as 80,000 to 100,000 Asian laborers died while being forced to build it.
Takashi Nagase was an Imperial Japanese Army officer and interpreter. He was born in Kurashiki, Japan. He was one of the officers in charge of the construction of the "Death Railway" which ran between Thailand and Burma and included the famous bridge over the river Kwai, and is known for the use of forced labor of Allied prisoners of war, though the majority of the labor (and resultant deaths) was incurred by romusha, or local civilians pressed into labor.
Nagase is also noted for his reconciliation with former British Army officer Eric Lomax, whom he interrogated and tortured at a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in 1942. Lomax then went on to mention his reconciliation with Nagase in his autobiography, The Railway Man. The book chronicled his experience before, during, and after World War II. It won the 1996 NCR Book Award and the J. R. Ackerley Prize for Autobiography.
Nagase also wrote a book on his own experiences during and after the war entitled Crosses and Tigers, and financed a Buddhist temple at the bridge to atone for his actions during the war. The meeting between the two men was filmed as a documentary Enemy, My Friend? (1995), directed by Mike Finlason.
Since the end of World War II, Takashi Nagase has been a devout Buddhist priest whose life has been devoted to making up for the Japanese army's treatment of prisoners of war. Takashi has made more than 100 missions of atonement to the River Kwai in Thailand.
Created by: Dr. William McDonald
Record added: Oct 12, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 98775086
Thank you, Mr. Nagase, for your efforts to bring awareness of these horrific crimes to the people of Japan. May you find eternal peace and forgiveness.|
Added: Apr. 4, 2015
Arigato, Mr. Takashi. I'm so glad to have heard of you and know your story.|
Added: Oct. 6, 2014
My compliments Sir, on having seen the light, and for your efforts after the war to bring peace to those who suffered, and understanding to those who remained. RIP|
Added: May. 5, 2014
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