National Commemoration for the 75th Anniversary of the Arrival of Jayforce in Japan

23rd March 2021
Ambassador of Japan to New Zealand, H.E. Mr. Koichi Ito and Samoa High Commissioner and Dean of Diplomatic Corps, H.E. Leasi Papali'i Scanlan paying respect at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at memorial

Photo source: Mark Tantrum photography
Last Friday 19th March 2021, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade invited the Samoa High Commissioner (H.E. Leasi Papali’i Scanlan) in his capacity as the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps to lay a wreath on behalf of the Diplomatic Corps at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park for the National Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the arrival of the Jayforce in Japan.
In 1946 on 19th March, 4,200 New Zealand troops arrived in Japan to serve in the 36,000 strong British Commonwealth Occupation Force. The army brigade, informally called the ‘Jayforce’, served as part of New Zealand’s assistance during the post-war occupation of Japan. For many Jayforce members, the occupation was their first contact with Japanese people, their customs and culture as they learned to live and work in a country in recovery from the war. The New Zealand men and women were shocked to witness the devastating effects of the destruction left behind by the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Members of the Jayforce brought back to New Zealand new appreciation and understanding of Japan. Some men fell in love not only with the country but with Japanese women they met, who returned home with them as war prides and thus helped promote an enduring relationship between New Zealand and Japan.
The New Zealand Governor General (the Rt. Hon. Dame Patsy Reddy) and Sir David Gascoigne led official guests to the Commemoration Ceremony which commenced with the paying of respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Following the singing of the national anthems of both Japan and New Zealand, Her Excellency delivered the Commemorative Address. The Minister of Defence (Hon Peeni Henare) then delivered the Historical Reading which was followed by the introduction of the Jayforce Veterans by the MC, Mr Mark Sainsbury. The Minister for Veterans (Hon Meka Whaitiri) read the Roll of Honour. The Wreath Laying Ceremony was very special and emotional, especially as several surviving veterans (mostly in their late 90s) and families went up to lay floral tributes into the Jayforce Veterans Wreath. The Historical Event concluded with a Reception hosted by the Governor General and Sir David at the Government House for the Jayforce Veterans & Families and Official Guests. The Japanese Government was represented by the Japanese Ambassador to New Zealand, His Excellency Mr Koichi Ito.