Obituaru: Professor Yuji Aida

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The Independent Online
James Kirkup's obituary of Yuji Aida [25 September] was excellent, writes S. T. Charles. Aida was undoubtedly a "character".

The English-language translation of Aida's account of his time after 15 August 1945 in Ahlone Camp, Rangoon, was quite incorrectly entitled by the publishers Prisoner of the British. Aida was never a "prisoner" in the hot-battle sense of the term. All the Japanese soldiers who "came over" to us after the Emperor's decision were - by critical arrangement between the commands - "Japanese Surrendered Personnel". "JSPs" was the army patois for them. This phrasing was strictly adhered to.

Battle prisoners (pre 15 August) - mainly at Bikanir - were so far as possible kept segregated on the repatriation boats.

Louis Allen and I were fellow field interrogators at Payagyi JSP Camp when Aida's 53 (YASU) Division moved through. Louis did not meet him there nor later in Burma. He much regretted that Aida did not do a "20 years on" supplement to his original story. Which both of us later thought odd for a Professor of History.

Louis Allen's unique prestige in the documentation of the Burma War rests not of course on this translation with Hide Ishiguro but on his classic Burma: the longest war, 1941-45 (1984).