KOTA BHARU, Malaysia — The Japanese military landing on the coast of a small fishing village in Malaysia's northern Kelantan state on Dec. 8, 1941, is still remembered by an octogenarian who witnessed the event that marked the start of the invasion of Southeast Asia in World War II.

Some seven decades later, the wave-battered shore has been pushed back and the paddy fields, wooden huts and a mosque that used to dot the site where the Japanese landed have now disappeared.

Only villages further inland have survived the onslaught of the waves.