End of WWI remembered, 90 years on

by Eric Johnston

KOBE — A small ceremony was held Tuesday morning at the Kobe Municipal Foreign Cemetery to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the end of the World War I.

French and Japanese residents of Kobe and Osaka, dressed in period uniforms, performed a brief ceremony in front of a monument to 19 foreign residents of Kobe, including two Frenchmen, who volunteered for service in Europe and perished on the Western Front during the 1914-1918 war.

French Consul General Alain Nahoum laid a wreath at the base of the memorial and spoke of the sacrifices the men made, and of Japan’s role. Japan was allied with France and Britain during the conflict.

Although Japanese troops were not sent to fight in the trenches of northern France and Belgium, they did capture the German colony of Tsingtao, China, and Japan took several Pacific islands controlled by the German navy.

The ceremony at the memorial is an annual affair, said Roger de Anfrasio, a French national who founded the event. De Anfrasio, who has lived in Japan since 1983, is an amateur historian of the period and of Japan’s role in the Great War.

The half-dozen or so French participating in the ceremony wore period uniforms representing different years of the conflict.