Iwoto Island: Japanese Prime
Minister Naoto Kan visited Iwoto Island, also known as
Iwojima, to inspect the government`s ongoing efforts to
recover the remains of Japanese soldiers who died in World War
Kan, the second Prime Minister to visit the island,
helped to recover some of the remains and paid his respects to
the war dead yesterday.
Kan told reporters on the island after his inspection
that the remains of some 300 Japanese soldiers have so far
been found since a special government team was set up this
After taking office in June, Kan set up the special team
to try to recover the remains of around 13,000 soldiers left
on the volcanic island, where Japanese and US forces fought
one of their fiercest battles for about one month toward the
end of the war.
``Under the current circumstances, more than 1,000 sets
of remains are expected to be recovered,`` Kan said. ``It is
our country`s responsibility. I will continue to address the
issue of recovery.`` In October, the team reported to Kan that
the remains of around 51 Japanese soldiers had been discovered
after it excavated two sites based on information obtained
from the United States.
The two sites are believed to be mass graves, as more
remains have been found since the team resumed its survey
earlier this month, according to government officials.
Kan checked the team`s work at the sites, one located
near a runway at the Japanese Self-Defense Forces` base in the
central part of the island and the other in the southern part
at the foot of Mt. Suribachi, where the US flag was raised
as a symbol of victory in 1945.
Kan, accompanied by ruling and opposition party
lawmakers, also attended a ceremony at the Tenzan Monument to
commemorate the soldiers.