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Japan confirmed Netaji's death a month after Taipei crash

Japan officially confirmed Subas Chandra Bose’s death as early as a month after the air crash in Taipei on August 18, 1945, according to a document recently sent by Japan’s Parliament to a veteran Indian journalist in the US.

world Updated: Sep 09, 2016 15:37 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
The Indian government has been declassifying and releasing files related to Bose since January.
The Indian government has been declassifying and releasing files related to Bose since January.

Japan officially confirmed Subas Chandra Bose’s death as early as a month after the air crash in Taipei on August 18, 1945, according to a document recently sent by Japan’s Parliament to a veteran Indian journalist in the US.

The document is another piece of evidence that adds to the belief the iconic leader perished in the crash.

A section of Bose’s extended family and others have insisted over the years that he survived the crash and lived incognito as “Gumnami Baba” in India. Investigations and reports since the crash, however, have suggested Bose died in Taipei.

The 1945 document with the confirmation of Bose’s death was sent by the library of Japan’s National Diet or Parliament to veteran editor Govind Talwalkar, 91, who is now based in the US. Talwalkar, who has been investigating Bose, shared the document with Hindustan Times and Bose's London-based grandnephew Ashis Ray.

It is considered perhaps the first official document confirming Bose's death.

The document shows Japan conveyed the facts to the US nearly 11 years before submitting an investigation report to the Indian government in January 1956. The information was sought by Louis Mountbatten as commander of the Allied forces in India (then still under British rule) and Southeast Asia.

Japan’s communication to the US in 1945 was an interim report and a prelude to the final report handed over to the Indian government in 1956. The context of the communication is this - Japan surrendered in World War 2 on August 15, 1945, and Bose died in the crash three days later.

On August 30, 1945, or 12 days after the incident, the commander of the Allied land forces in the South West Pacific, US Gen Douglas MacArthur, through the Yokohama division of the Japanese Army, sought information from Japan on the “Reported Death of CHANDRA BOSE”.

In an “ad interim” report “pending the compilation of complete data”, the Japanese government confirmed Bose’s death “in an airplane accident” in Taihoku (the Japanese name for Taipei). The report went on to say the 97-2 model Japanese bomber carrying Bose “reached the Taihoku Airfield (from Tourane, now known as Da Nang) at 13:00 o’clock”.

It then stated: “After refuelling it took off at 14:00 o’clock. When it rose about 10 metres above the ground the propeller of the left side engine fell apart. The plane, shaking violently right and left, listed to the left and crashed against the mound at the end of the airfield. Fire broke out instantly at both the front and the rear of the plane.”

The report continued: “Bose, drenched in gasoline and covered with flame, emerged from a hole on the left side and toward the front of the fuselage. His aide HR (Habib-ur-Rahman) also crawled out of the machine, and endeavoured to extinguish the fire on Bose, who however had been severely burned, beside being injured at several places, including two or three cuts in the neck. Ten minutes after the accident, he was taken to the Army Hospital in Taihoku, and received treatment at 15:00 o’clock. His death came at 21:00 o’clock.”

Regarding the “disposition of the remains of Bose”, the report said they were “placed in a coffin” on “August 20”, the “cremation” took place on “22 August” and the “funeral at the Nishi Honganji Temple, Taihoku” on “August 23”.

The Indian government has been declassifying and releasing files related to Bose since January. Anita Bose-Pfaff, the daughter of Bose, told Hindustan Times that suggestions he survived the crash were “asinine” and that his ashes should now be brought from Tokyo to India.