During World War I, there was vicious and devastating fighting in the sea off the coast of Wales. On October 4 1918, one month before the armistice, the Hirano Maru, a Japanese vessel, was torpedoed by the German U boat, UB91. Of the 320 Japanese sailors on board, only 29 survived.
In this talk, David James explained about the warfare in Welsh waters and the sinking of the Hirano Maru. He then discussed his efforts to restore the memorial in Angle, Pembrokeshire, which is dedicated to the Japanese sailors who lost their lives. The new memorial was unveiled in Angle on October 4th 2018, one hundred years after the sinking of the Hirano Maru. David also talked about the gingko tree which was sent by the Japanese Marshal Admiral Hehachiro Togo, who lived in Pembroke Dock for two years while his ship, the Hiei of 1877, was being built. The gingko tree is still growing in Pembrokeshire and cuttings will be sent to Tokyo and planted in a Place of Honour. He explained how the stories of the Hirano Maru and the Hehachiro Togo’s gingko tree have become intertwined.David James' Presentation
About the contributors
David James has campaigned to restore the memorial in Angle, Pembrokeshire, dedicated to the Japanese sailors who died when their ship the Hirano Maru was torpedoed by German forces during World War I. He has appeared on BBC Wales Today to raise awareness of the story. Through his efforts he has managed to raise enough funds from local donations and from the Nippon Yusen Kaisha Shipping Line of Tokyo, who once owned the Hirano Maru, to restore the memorial. David was conscripted into the British Army as National Serviceman and was posted to Libya and Berlin. He then worked for various branches of Local Government in South Pembrokeshire, ending his career as a Senior Officer. David is honorary secretary of the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society.
Setsuo Kato is a Japanese photo-journalist based in London. He studied journalism at Waseda University, Tokyo. Since moving to London in the 1970s Setsuo has worked as a freelance journalist, contributing articles and photo-features to Japanese media publications. He created the Japanese community newspaper “The Nichi-Ei Times”, which he published for over ten years. He is currently the editor of the Nippon Club London Newsletter. Setsuo visited Pembrokeshire to meet David James and other local people in last May and has had the story of the Hirano Maru and the new memorial in Angle, Pembrokeshire, published in various Japanese newspapers.