Naval chiefs fly in for historic visit

Admiral Masahiko Sugimoto, Chief of Staff of the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force, Cowra Mayor Cr Bill West, Mrs Shigemi Sugimoto, and Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, during the wreath-laying ceremony at the Australian War Cemetery, Cowra.
Admiral Masahiko Sugimoto, Chief of Staff of the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force, Cowra Mayor Cr Bill West, Mrs Shigemi Sugimoto, and Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, during the wreath-laying ceremony at the Australian War Cemetery, Cowra.

Australian and Japanese naval chiefs have visited Cowra together for the first time on Saturday in an event aiming to further strengthen ties between the countries.

Vice Admiral Ray Griggs of the Royal Australian Navy and Admiral Masahiko Sugimoto of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force flew into the town’s airport on an Air Force Challenger VIP jet before visiting its war cemeteries.

They laid wreaths at the cemeteries before seeing the town’s former POW camp site.

Tony Mooney OAM, director of the Cowra-Japan Society, said while Japanese naval personnel have visited the town in the past, this was the first time a Japanese admiral arrived with an Australian Navy chief.

The naval chiefs visited the Japanese Garden, where they planted a flowering crab apple tree together to mark the occasion.

The visit’s success shows the central importance Cowra’s history holds for both countries, Mayor Councillor Bill West said.