Northwest Thailand during World War II

N18°36 E98°49 Ban Kat (Th: บ้านกาด / Jp: バンガート村 )
page 3 of 8

Route 1013
Station 08.9



Source 2. Japanese war veterans organized an effort to recover IJA remains in Thailand, Burma, and India which got underway in 1977. The highlights of their efforts were published,[20] but there is little information about conditions at Ban Kat. It was located on the Central Route, for which the following map was provided:[20a]


20.^ Journal

20a.^ Journal, p 450, annotations by author in conjunction with translators.

Veterans map from Khun Yuam to Chiang Mai


What was presented were these observations:

Patients / walking wounded were sent via the northern route because it was believed to have fewer steep slopes and there was a greater number of way point stations than the very mountainous (but shorter) central route. . . . For those in fairly good physical condition, the central route was a reasonable alternative . . . .[22]

While Mae Na Chon was 68 km to the west, the village chief there during the war made these comments generally relevant to Ban Kat:

1) Japanese soldiers who had come were relatively healthy, and they had rested at this village for a few days before heading off on the eastern mountain road toward Chiang Mai. . . .

6) Near the end of the war, on average once a week, a group of soldiers would pass by on its way to Chiang Mai.[23]

Source 3. The Etou Foundation (慧燈財団), in an early comment, erroneously reported:

In the final stages of the war in 1945, the Japanese military withdrew from Burma and returned through this area. When many died of malaria and related illnesses, their comrades buried them in the abandoned well at the San Kayoum temple.[24]

More recently, and unfortunately perpetuating that error, this author commented on the above:

A possible reason for this action was NOT to contaminate the well or the water table; rather it appears it might have been a matter of public health in dealing quickly with hundreds of bodies in a tropical environment. Military personnel were exhausted, hospital staffs were desperately overworked, and equipment was not available to dig the mass graves required. The well was dry and had been long abandoned: it was a convenient pre-existing hole which allowed the expeditious disposition of a very large health hazard.

The hole would not have been considered for such use if it had been a working well. Since there were perhaps thousands of Japanese military passing through the area, it would not have made any sense at all to contaminate any well.[25]

Curiously, there does not appear to be any Thai research published about this location.

Nov 1977 (BE 2520)

Partially supported by a Japanese Government financial grant, Japanese war veterans came to Ban Kat asking where the Japanese army had stayed and where the dead had been buried. They were directed to Wat Maan. Neither Wat San Kayoum nor its well are mentioned in the final report of that effort.[26]

Jan - Mar 1978 (BE 2521)

The results of on-site research by the veterans were followed up by younger Japanese who retrieved what remains could be found, which eventually numbered 63.[27]

Remains recovered were cremated with proper Buddhist ceremony and the ashes returned to Japan.[28]

The sisters remember things differently: the remains were relocated directly from Wat Maan to the well at Wat San Kayoum.


. . . the cultural importance to every Japanese of returning some portion of a dead comrade's body to his home.[29]

would have guided the Japanese in handling the remains: a small portion of each would have been retained for proper ceremony and return to Japan, with the rest of the remains committed to the care of the well.

1989 (BE 2532)

Shirabe Kanga was one of several Buddhist monks who had gone to Cambodia to help refugees. On the way back, they met relatives of Japanese war dead from Saga Prefecture, and went with them to Chiang Mai. In Chiang Mai at Wat Muen San, they met an old Thai monk who urged them to recover the remains of IJA troops

The new Witayacom High School serving Ban Kat was commissioned.[30] During construction, the well was rediscovered along with its bones which had come from both local mayhem as well as the subsequent relocation of IJA remains.

1990 (BE 2533)

Shirabe Kanga, motivated by the Thai monk's urging, began the search for IJA remains.[30a]

1992 (BE 2535)

Per an Etou Foundation information leaflet about the memorial (as translated):

. . . a team from Japan started searching in this general area for the remains of Japanese soldiers from World War II. As a result, the remains were discovered at Wat San Kayoum's abandoned well, in addition to other areas. The well was located on the grounds of the current Ban Kat Witayacom High School.[31]

1993 (BE 2536)

The Japanese found the location of the well attractive: it was remote from the development in Bat Kat in an appropriately quiet, peaceful area. An Etou Foundation English-language information leaflet about the memorial notes:

. . . the executive director of Etou Foundation, Shirabe Kanga, a Japanese monk, along with the Japanese Consul General in Chiang Mai at that time, visited the high school, seeking permission to erect a stone monument to the soldiers lost in the Thai-Burma Campaign [over the well].

Seri Swanapet, the school principal (1990-1997), and responsible for the water well, gave permission for the foundation to occupy the site because of the presence of the remains of Japanese soldiers.[32]

A bilingual Japanese-Thai sign at the entry point to the memorial area translates as:

In 1993, the principal of Ban Kat High School offered a plot of land to the Etou Foundation to build a monument to Japanese military personnel who died in World War II.[33]

1995 (BE2537)

Etou Foundation was formally established by Shirabe Kanga to facilitate the collection of remains and the building of a memorial.[34] An educational assistance / scholarship program was begun in the Ban Kat schools.[35]

2001 (BE 2544)

A pedestal on the left side of the bell tower written in both Japanese and Thai[36]

Welcoming text

translates as:

In 2001, the principal of Ban Kat High School gave permission to the Etou Foundation for construction of a bell tower in memory of Japanese military personnel who died in World War II.[37]

2002 (BE 2545)

Etou Foundation website information about the memorial tells in translation that the bell and tower were constructed in 2002.[38]

Date: Ongoing

Organized by Etou Foundation, Remembrance Day Services are held annually at the memorial:[39]

Group photo at ceremony


Continued on next page






22.^ Journal, p 422






23.^ Journal, p 452




24.^ Handout brochure for memorial service at Ban Kat, unpublished (Chiang Mai, Etou Foundation, Aug 2008); translation by author.








25.^ "Review Note 2" (03 Nov 2008) in Hardcastle, David, "How Japan has not forgotten: 63 years after The War", City Life Chiang Mai (Nov 2008).
Note: on-line archives are no longer available (comment: 21 May 2022).



26.^ Journal, pp 419-470.




27.^ Journal, p 470

28.^ Journal, p 460 ff




29.^ Hastings, Max, Retribution (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2008), p 78





30.^ ข้อมูลทั่วไป (general information on website,, now a dead link). Per Konishi email of 18 Apr 2012 (Rev 1). By 04 Jul 2012, this school info website had been expanded and historical info was available at History (link now dead). The commissioning date appears to have been 1987 (BE 2530)


30a.^ Per clarification in Konishi email of 18 Apr 2012 (Rev 1).


31.^ "Details about the Monument Dedicated to Those Left Behind in the Thai-Burma Theatre": from English language Etou Foundation handout for memorial ceremony on 24 Jul 2008.







32.^ ibid.



33.^ See section titled '2001 (BE 2544)' below, along with footnote 37.

34.^ The first edition of this web page incorrectly identified a "Masashi Yutaka" as having established the Etou Foundation.

A biography, in Japanese, of Shirabe Kanga [調 寛雅(しらべ かんが)], who actually provided the impetus for establishing the foundation, is online. I will get this translated later. (Rev 1).

Alas, I waited too long: the lilnk is dead. Contact information with the foundatiion was lost during the Covid pandemic (comment: 20 May 2022).

35.^ From "Etou Foundation Chronological History" in Japanese language at, accessed 16 Jul 2010; now unavailable
(21 May 2022).

36.^ Author photo: cimg2235.jpg, 07 Jan 2008

37.^ Consistent with the Etou website's History of the Memorial in Japanese (link no longer active).

38.^ ibid

39.^ Tigerpix-uap-133.jpg, 24 Jul 2008. Courtesy of 'Gus' Gutteridge, Thaigerpics.

The 2011 ceremony was covered in Japanese in detail at:
    Etou Foundation News
However, there have been no entries since Feb 2012.

NB: Google Chrome browser can automatically provide a basic translation of this link.