New Zealand Jayforce soldiers at the entrance to a park in Chofu, Japan, c.1946-48. Image courtesy of Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: J-0185-F.
New Zealand will mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of Jayforce in Japan following the end of the Second World War at a National Commemoration on Friday.
“The national commemoration will take place at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park and will be attended by a number of dignitaries, including the Governor-General Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, Minister of Defence Hon Peeni Henare and Minister for Veterans Hon Meka Whaitiri,” said Deputy Chief Executive Delivery at Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Tamsin Evans.
“The service will be especially poignant as a number of veterans who served as part of the Jayforce deployment will be in attendance.”
More than 12,000 New Zealanders served in the post-Second World War occupation of Japan, known as the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF), Japan (unofficially J Force or Jayforce).
“The first contingent was drawn from those based in Italy when the war ended. Within months, the second wave, all volunteers recruited in NZ, began arriving in relief drafts. They served as part of a 36,000-strong British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF),” said Ms Evans.
The Commonwealth troops had two key roles: overseeing Japanese demilitarisation and demobilisation.
“Sadly, fifteen New Zealanders were killed in accidents or died of natural causes during the Jayforce deployment. They are buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Yokohama,” she said.
“When Great Britain and India withdrew from the BCOF in 1947, enthusiasm for New Zealand’s ongoing involvement waned and the majority of troops had returned home by the end of 1948.
“Members of Jayforce brought back to New Zealand a new appreciation for and understanding of Japan and, looking back, the post-war occupation can be viewed as the early beginnings of what has now become an enduring relationship between our two countries.”
National Commemoration of Jayforce
Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, Buckle Street, Wellington
11am, Friday 19 March 2021 (please arrive by 10.50am)
This event will also be livestreamed via the Pukeahu National War Memorial Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pukeahu
Note: should any changes to the format of the ceremony need to occur due to a change in COVID-19 Alert Levels, updates will be provided via the Facebook page and the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park website: mch.govt.nz/pukeahu/news-events/events