Captain Toshihide Noma of the Japanese Maritime Defence Force and members of Portland Royal Naval Association attend a service at the graveside of PO Harada (Picture: Royal Navy).
The Japanese Defence attaché to the UK has laid a wreath at the grave of a sailor from the Imperial Japanese Navy who died in 1919 and was buried at the Royal Navy Cemetery in Portland, Dorset.
The thin column of stone shaped to appear as a bamboo cane, the traditional Japanese grave marker, stands out among other Royal Navy Commonwealth War Graves Commission stones, with its Japanese inscription naming Petty Officer Asayoshi Harada and the date of his death, 15 February 1919.
Portland resident Jed Grant, who had walked along the footpaths nearby and often visited the cemetery with his father wanted to know more about it.
“It was maybe the Japanese inscription or the shape of the stone which stood out to me.”
Years later, Mr Grant got in touch with the Japanese Embassy in London. The Defence Attaché in London, Captain Toshihide Noma of the Japanese Maritime Defence Force, answered his enquiry and got in touch with the naval records office in Tokyo: “I asked if any relatives could be traced of Petty Officer Harada, and to be honest I thought it would be too difficult after over 100 years.
"However, they came back with the information that his grandson was still alive. He was very pleased that Jed and the people of this country had been thinking about his grandfather and appreciated their kind thoughts, he thanked everyone.”
On the centenary of Petty Officer Harada’s death, Capt Toshihide paid tribute and thanked the dedicated efforts of Jed Grant and those from the Portland Royal Naval Association who attended the small service at the graveside.
He said: “I have been very touched by the sincere thoughts of the people of Portland, 100 years after PO Harada’s death.
"On behalf of Japan, the Japanese Navy and the people of Japan, I would like thank everyone for their very kind thoughts to our lost serviceman.”
PO Harada’s ship, the IJNS Idjumo was deployed to the Mediterranean as part of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance fighting the German and Ottoman Navies.
It is believed PO Harada died of Spanish Influenza, which had reached epidemic proportions after WW1, while anchored off Portland Harbour.
PO Harada’s body was laid to rest with full Royal Navy military honours amongst other seafarers from that era.