British vet, reconciler, honored

Kyodo

At a ceremony to take place at the official residence of Japanese Ambassador Shin Ebihara in London this month, a British World War II veteran will be awarded a top Japanese honor for his reconciliation efforts.

Philip Malins, 91, will receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays medallion for his work in bringing together former British and Japanese service members.

Malins, who lives in Birmingham, will be given the award at a special lunch in his honor at the ambassador’s home Nov. 25.

The veteran, who fought against Japanese forces in Burma, said: “My reaction on getting the award is one of amazement. It has come as a total surprise and, of course, in receiving it I’m conscious that many others made great efforts for reconciliation.”

While many British veterans maintained a long-standing hatred of Japan due to the atrocities meted out to POWs, Malins worked hard to promote reconciliation between the two countries.

Malins, who was never a POW himself, worked alongside the Sasakawa Foundation to organize reconciliation meetings between veterans.

Members of his group, the Burma Campaign Fellowship, hosted representatives from the All Burma Veterans Association of Japan, and the British veterans also visited Japan to meet with former enemies.

“We found they were very much the same people as us,” said Malins.

He also said that he was responsible for initiating the successful Royal British Legion campaign to get a goodwill payment in 2000 from the British government for the former POWs held captive in Japan.