During the Pacific War, he took part in the Battle of Imphal, which was infamous for its severity. The number of war dead at the battle and on the withdrawal routes was said to be around 100,000. The Burmese people near the battle front were kind to the fleeing, defeated Japanese soldiers, as Japan had liberated them from British colonial rule. Not only did they not inform on them, but they hid them, gave them food and helped rescue many of the remnants of the army from a wretched situation. Repaying that kindness became a common mission for those survivors who had been close to death’s door.

 

Not many people know about it now, but after the war there was a national policy to promote the reclamation and cultivation of land for farming throughout the country. From around 1945 to 1955, there were approximately 1,800 households in total that settled in Saitama Prefecture. As one of those settlers he endeavored to reclaim and cultivate forestland that was originally privately owned. Even though he had been born into a wealthy farming family in Niigata, he had never done any farm work. For a long while, he toiled away fruitlessly with the poor soil, but after experiencing many hardships, good fortune called. A sincere pioneer taught him how to raise dairy cattle, and he became a successful dairy farmer.

 

He set up an economic foundation to establish an incorporated foundation with an aim of repaying Burma for its kindness, and creating 190,000 memorial pillars to commemorate and comfort the spirits of the war dead, but it did not receive government approval. He started up a scholarship fund for overseas Burmese students in Japan in 1989, which he funded entirely by himself. The 180 young people who have received the support to study are valuable people for their role in helping build friendship between the two countries.


There is a stone monument at his house with the names of the people who helped him during his pioneering days inscribed on it. It’s thanks to the pioneers who risked their lives opening up new paths that now people can enjoy all the advances in peace that have been made.

Seiji Imaizumi

Born in 1923 in the Minami-Uonuma. Enlisted in the army in 1941. Demobilized from the army in 1946 and settled in Tsurugashima in the following year. Established the Imaizumi farm in 1961. Due to urbanization, gave up his business in 1971 and started commercial facility development. Awarded the Medal with Blue Ribbon in 1967 and 1988, and the Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays in 2005.

Spirit and Spine
‘Kitohone’

created by
THE SPIRIT AND SPINE
CREATIVE FORCE,Tokyo

project direction
Gaku Okubo (ISUKE INC.)
photography
Yoshitomo Tanaka (Vivot)
site design
ISUKE INC. and ICA
title calligraphy
Kenryo Hara (Kikkokai)