TOKYO – In 1944, the two men were in Burma as foes, fighting one of harshest battles of World War II between Japan and Britain. More than 70 years later, they shook hands and sipped tea in Tokyo.
Roy Welland, 94, a former British sergeant, and Taiji Urayama, 93, a former Imperial Army lieutenant, survived the Battle of Kohima and met for the first time at a British Embassy reception in Tokyo. Another Japanese veteran joined the friendly gathering.
While the men were mostly quiet, Urayama's daughter, Akiko McDonald, said she was "deeply moved" to see her father finally met Welland.
Welland is in Tokyo for a reconciliation program between the two countries. Japan invites American and Australian former prisoners of war under similar friendship programs.