Death Railway museum opens in Mon State

YANGON — A museum has opened in Mon State at a terminus of the notorious Death Railway built by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, at the cost of tens of thousands of Asian and European lives.

The Death Railway Museum was opened on January 4 at Thanbyuzayat, about 65 kilometres (40 miles) south of the state capital, Mawlamyine.

The museum features photos, paintings, sculptures and 3D images documenting the building of the railway, said state-controlled Global New Light of Myanmar. Statues of members of the Japanese Imperial Army and prisoners-of-war are displayed outside the building.

The museum was built by the Tala Mon Co Ltd, which was also contracted to build a hotel, restaurant and other tourist facilities on a four-acre plot in Thanbyuzayat, the report said.

Among those at the opening ceremony was Mr Miko Kinoshita, 95, who said he was an engineer on the railway. The GNLM said Mr Kinoshita cried at the ceremony, saying the museum was a realisation of his dream to commemorate the suffering and death of those who built the railway.

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The 425km (258 mile) line linked Thanbyuzayat with Ban Pong, near Kanchanaburi in Thailand, where war cemeteries and Death Railway museums attract tens of thousands of tourists a year.

About 180,000 Asian forced labourers and 60,000 Allied POWs toiled on the railway, which was completed in December 1943. The inhumane conditions under which they were forced to work claimed the lives of about 90,000 Asian workers and 12,400 Allied prisoners.

A war cemetery at Thanbyuzayat, one of three in Myanmar maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, honours the memory of more than 3,600 POWs who died on railway.

After the Japanese defeat in World War II, a total of 111 Japanese and Korean guards were convicted of war crimes during the building of the railway, and 32 were sentenced to death.

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