Row over VJ-Day service escalates

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The Independent Online
The row between the Royal British Legion and Shirayama, the Japanese owners of London's County Hall, over a VJ-Day remembrance service escalated yesterday, when the corporation's London representative "banned" any mention of the Second World War from the building.

The Royal British Legion had accused the corporation of "a dismaying lack of sensitivity" over its response to a request for permission to hold a remembrance service at the building's war memorial for former employees of London's local authority.

The corporation offered access to the memorial if the Legion's County Hall branch located and paid the expenses of seven Japanese war veterans to attend. The Legion described Shirayama's offer as "disgusting and ridiculous".

"This was clearly not practicable and it is the view of the Royal British Legion that it is an outrageous demand and shows a dismaying lack of sensitivity, bordering on arrogance," a spokesman said.

The Legion has suggested a compromise solution, offering to send just two members to lay a wreath and say the exhortation.

But yesterday Mac Okamato, Shirayama's London representative, said: "I want nothing to do with the war in this building.

"If the Legion really believed in reconciliation they would not have described my offer as 'disgusting and ridiculous' ". The Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey is now said to be trying to mediate between the two parties.