More than 70 years ago, the Japanese Imperial Army suffered a huge defeat on the shores of Leyte during the latter days of World War II, fighting against American forces in the Philippines. Now the Japanese troops are returning in the same area, this time to lend a helping hand in the relief operations of the typhoon-ravaged islands, in what is the largest overseas deployment of Self Defense Forces since World War II.
The welcoming the citizens of Tacloban offered the troops on Friday was much warmer than when Japan first came to these shores in 1942 to occupy the archipelago for three years. The troops arrived aboard three vessels to take part in the massive international relief effort to help the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan, with the death tally already reaching 5,500 and counting. According to Takashi Inoue, deputy director of public affairs with the Japanese embassy in Manila, they will be meeting with Philippine authorities in order to determine the best way the Japanese SDF personnel will be able to offer assistance.
Several townspeople witnessed Japan’s first coming in the early 1940s, but they said right now there is no use holding grudges against the brutal military reign of the Japanese during World War II. One of the survivors of both eras, 91-year-old Beatrice Bisquera, said that what they endured during the occupation is nothing compared to the devastation Haiyan brought to their province two weeks ago. The former vice mayor of Tacloban, Tente Quintero, said he is extremely happy that the Japanese troops are back in the Philippines. “There’s nothing like two allies living in harmony with each other,” he said. General Roy Deveraturda, Commanding General of the Philippine armed forces Central Command, said that the country is extremely grateful to the humanitarian aid from the Japanese government, one of the first to respond during the initial call for help. Joji Tomioka, one of the Japanese doctors coordinating a medical team, said that while no one can forget the past, “we must learn from history so that we will not do the same thing again.”
[ via Yahoo ]