July 28, 2019 Sun
Yosano-Aberystwyth association

One of the most surprising things about coming to Yosano as a British ALT is the fact that the town is linked with Aberystwyth, a small coastal town in Wales. What is even more surprising is the origin of this connection. During World War Two, Yosano was in fact the site of a prisoner of war (POW) camp, with several hundred POWs from the Allied forces, as well as Chinese and Korean labourers, forced to work in the mines of Oeyama. Many of the prisoners were Welsh soldiers captured in Hong Kong. The experience was brutal; prisoners were underfed, lived in harsh conditions, and were regularly punished for minor infractions. Unsurprisingly, around 10% of the prisoners perished. After the end of the war, the prisoners returned home, many unaware of where they had spent several years in suffering. However, during a visit back to Japan many years after the war ended, one former soldier named Frank Evans located the town where he was kept prisoner. Returning to Yosano, Frank established the Yosano-Aberystwyth link, aiming to promote a connection between the two towns and foster ‘everlasting peace’. The association is now thriving, with a regular exchange of students between the two towns and several events held annually to promote cultural understanding. The Aberystwyth-Yosano link may have painful origins, but the connection helps both preserve the memory of those prisoners who died and encourage an openness in the younger generation, important for the future of both towns. May the association continue to go from strength to strength.

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