Tokyo: Japan`s Foreign Ministry on Friday insisted there was no mystery behind human skulls stored at its consulate in Chicago for three months, saying officials were checking if they were the remains of WWII soldiers.
A box containing human bones, including two skulls, arrived at the consulate in the post in mid-June with an unsigned letter saying they were those of Japanese soldiers killed on a small Pacific island during World War II, a ministry official in Tokyo said.
The Chicago Tribune had reported the letter, post-marked June 14 in Minnesota, asked Japanese diplomats to take the bones back to Japan to be properly buried.
The daily said the skulls were delivered to local police only after staff members "found the box" while cleaning out a closet recently.
The newspaper said it was not clear why there had been a three month delay in the transfer to law enforcement officers.
But the Japanese official said there was nothing untoward or improper and the box had been properly stored.
"It took us time to check if the bones could actually belong to former Japanese soldiers as the letter said," the official said.
"We reported the case to Chicago police soon after the box arrived and carried out the examination in cooperation with local police," he said.
Consular officials turned the bones over to police earlier this month after concluding that they may not be Japanese, the official said.