Earlier this year H.E. Toshiyuki Yamada, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Palau, granted generous financial assistance to Dr. Minoru F. Ueki, President of Sakura-kai to pay for the rehabilitation of the Sakura-kai Cemetery in Koror as well as fund a maintenance contract utilizing the Ngermid Youth Organization to provide continuous maintenance of the Cemetery.

[restrict]

Formally known as Kaigun Bochi, the Japanese Naval Cemetery was established in the early 1920’s by the Japanese Administration to bury Japanese Naval personnel who passed away while serving here in Palau.  It also served as the resting place for Japanese officials and civilians who were part of Palau’s development pre-war.  After World War II (WWII) ended in 1944, it became the resting place for the Japanese soldiers who perished in the War.

According to Dr. Ueki, Palau became part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) in the early 1950’s and once again opened its ports to receive foreign travelers.  By this time the Nisei or second generation Japanese/Palauans have organized themselves and formed an association called Sakura-kai.   Communications have also been established between Sakura-kai and the families and organizations in Japan and discussion on-going on their desire to establish a memorial park to honor relatives and friends who perished in Palau during WWII.

Dr. Ueki established talks with Ibedul Ngoriakl that resulted in the Kaigun Bochi being identified as a memorial park for such purposes.  This began the long commitment Sakura-kai members had to continuously maintain the cemetery.  Bereaved families and organizations from different prefectures of Japan began to travel to Palau to build monuments at the cemetery to honor the souls of the departed Japanese soldiers who perished in Palau.  This activity continued until recent years.  Over time, the Kaigun Bochi became one of Palau’s historical sites to visit especially for visiting relatives and friends of the departed.

Nowadays Palauans call this area Sakura-kai and it may be because the group that maintains the cemetery is made up of members of Sakura-kai.  This group has held close association with a group in Japan called Palau-kai who has ties to cemetery.  For this reason, Kaigun Bochi or Sakura-kai became an attraction to Japanese tourists as the area provides an environment that is conducive for reflection and memorial services.

Dr. Ueki and the members of Sakura-kai are most appreciative of the prompt and positive response of H.E. Yamada and the Embassy of Japan that led to the restoration of the numerous monuments at the cemetery as well as the continued upkeep of the park by the Ngermid Youth Organization.   The rehabilitated cemetery and the continued upkeep will serve as a lasting tribute to honor the souls of those who served with their lives and perished with honor here in Palau. [/restrict]