The largest Japanese cemetery in South East Asia.
The Japanese Cemetery Park is a cemetery and park. At 29,359 square metres, it is the largest Japanese cemetery in South East Asia, consisting of 910 tombstones that contain the remains of young Japanese prostitutes, civilians, soldiers and convicted war criminals executed at Changi Prison in Singapore. It was gazetted as a memorial park by the Singapore government in 1987.
A Japanese brothel owner, Tagajiro Fukaki, donated 7 acres of his rubber plantation to be used as a burial ground for young Japanese women who died in destitution. The British Colonial Government officially granted permission for this use on 26 June 1891. Since then, it was used to bury Japanese residents.
During the Second World War, the cemetery was used to bury civilians and soldiers who lost their lives in the battlefield or to illness. After the British repatriated all the Japanese in 1948, no Japanese were allowed back into Singapore or Malaya for fear of their war past. The Singapore government took over ownership of the cemetery and left it disused. This policy towards the Japanese dead in Singapore remained until the Official Peace Treaty was signed with Japan in 1951.
In November 1952, Ken Ninomiya, the first post-war Japanese Consul-General to Singapore was tasked to find out the fate of Japanese war remains in Singapore. Upon locating the remains, the aim was to repatriate the ashes of the dead.
However, the Japanese government eventually decided it would not remove the remains of the Japanese war dead to a separate cemetery nor would they repatriate the ashes. This was because the Japanese surrendered personnel had put so much effort to erect a memorial in the cemetery for their fallen comrades earlier and as such the memorial was a type of a shrine in itself as well as the fact that all ashes had been entombed in one single mound which made any form of identification impossible.
In 1969, the Singapore government handed back ownership of the cemetery to the re-formed Japanese Association which was now tasked with maintaining the cemetery. Burials continued until 1973 when the Singapore government passed an ordinance preventing the further expansion of the 42 cemeteries on the island.
Today, the Japanese Association of Singapore still continues to maintain the cemetery which has since became a memorial park in 1987 for the appreciation of history and for its natural flora and fauna. As a legacy of the history of Japan and Singapore, the cemetery park is often visited by Japanese students, veterans, residents and tourists.
(As you can see, I changed film halfway through – finished my roll of Lucky 200; thankfully I bring extra film everywhere I go! Continued with Kodak EBX 100.)