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In 1953, the Foreign Minister of Japan Mamoru Shigemitsu hailed Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as the ‘Hero of Asia’.

In 1953, the Foreign Minister of Japan Mamoru Shigemitsu hailed Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as the ‘Hero of Asia’.

In 1953, the Foreign Minister of Japan Mamoru Shigemitsu hailed Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as the ‘Hero of Asia’. Mr Shigemitsu said : “….. I am extremely pleased to hear the name of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Hero of Asia, whom I can claim as one time good and intimate friend of mine which I naturally consider a great honour…”

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, or Chandra Bose as he is known in Japan, Head of State of the Provisional Government of Azad Hind and the Supreme Commander of the Indian National Army, was invited as an “observer” to the Greater East Asia Conference which was held here in Tokyo on the 5th and 6th of November 1943. Reflecting on that historic event, Dr Baw Maw of Burma had this to say about Chandra Bose:

“Netaji joined us at the Greater East Asia conference where he met the heads of state of China, Manchukuo, Thailand, the Philippines, and Burma. He was warmly welcomed by all. He was a bold, militant figure in uniform and carried with him everywhere the aura of his great and tragic country, and its long struggle to be free and great again. He sat with us only as an observer, because Free India was still a state without territory, but Prime Minister Tojo soon rectified this by ceding the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the new state. Tojo did yet another thing. At the final session of the conference which was held in the presence of a large international gathering he asked me to give the principal speech which was to be about Netaji and the Indian cause. He said that he wanted a really good fighting speech for the whole world to hear, and I promised to do my best. I really tried hard to do it. My central theme was that Asia or any part of it cannot be truly free unless India is also free. It went down much better than I had hoped, for it struck the racial chords that had already been stirred by the conference which was the first gathering ever to take place of the nations of Asia in a completely Asian setting. Netaji replied to my speech in some of the most moving words I have ever heard. As he went on his voice broke and his eyes became misty. It was really a poignant, spell-bound moment for all who heard him. Time passes, great and powerful men in their day come and go, and a few of them, a very few, leave behind memories which live on and even grow by themselves with the years. Such men become part of the ultimate story of their people. There is every reason to believe that Subhas Chandra Bose is among these few men.”

Picture : Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose with Burmese Head of State, Dr. Ba Maw and Deputy Prime Minister of Burma, U Kyaw Nyein(left), Tokyo, November 6, 1943

Picture Courtesy : Breakthrough in Burma : Memoirs of a Revolution, 1939-1946

by Sourav Saumya Das
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