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Monday, February 13, 2006

Singapore Remembers WWII

Fearing that younger generations will forget what their parents, grandparents and great grandparents endured, Singapore is designating certain sites as historical monuments.

More than six decades after World War II, Singapore is preserving sites that marked key events of Japan's invasion of the country as national monuments, including a building where Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita, the "Tiger of Malaya," and his British counterpart met to negotiate the surrender of British forces in 1942.


Also on the list are three beaches, which were the sites of Japanese massacres of civilians.

Singapore was occupied by Japanese forces between 1942 and 1945 and up to 100,000 people, mainly ethnic Chinese, were believed to have been massacred under Japanese military aggression.

Singapore is also adding their voice to the growing number of nations and groups upset at the Prime Minister of Japan's visits to Yasukuni.

As the generation that fought and suffered during World War II and the Japanese occupation continue to grow older and pass away, those remaining realize the importance of remembering what occurred. While they were alive and healthy, their own memories seemed to suffice, now they realize that younger generations have no idea of the suffering they endured. They want to ensure that it never happens again; remembering is important to keep people from ever becoming complacent.
But the majority ethnic-Chinese island state has been less vocal than China or South Korea on controversial issues of the war. Such issues include the whitewashing of Japanese military aggression in Japanese school history textbooks, and Japanese leaders' continued visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine, which enshrines 14 Class-A war criminals along with 2.47 million war dead.

However, recently Singapore government leaders have also joined the growing chorus of Asian nations calling on Japanese leaders to stop visiting Yasukuni Shrine.