Tokyo: Prime Minister Naoto Kan has
vowed to recover the remains of all Japanese soldiers on Iwoto
Island, one of the fiercest battlefields of World War II,
expressing hope that the undertaking will lead to similar
recovery efforts abroad.
"It is the state`s responsibility to recover the
remains until the last body," Kan said at the first meeting of
a special team set up at his initiative to carry out the
project. "I hope it will lead to the recovery of (other
Japanese soldiers`) remains overseas."
During the same meeting, Yukihiko Akutsu, one of the
prime minister`s assistants who heads the special team,
reported on his exchanges with US government officials
concerning the recovery of remains during his trip to
the United States late last month.
Akutsu had confirmed with the officials that the
Japanese government would cooperate with a US government
office overseeing efforts to recover the remains of Americans
who went missing in action overseas.
Other members of the special team include
representatives from the Cabinet Secretariat, the Foreign
Ministry, the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry, and the
About 21,900 Japanese soldiers died on the island,
also known as Iwojima, during a battle near the end of the
war. The Japanese government began recovering their remains in
1952, but those of more than 10,000 soldiers have yet to be
recovered, according to the welfare ministry.
Located about 1,250 kilometres south of Tokyo, Iwoto
is administered by the metropolitan government and the only
inhabitants are Self-Defence Forces personnel and others
involved in maintaining an SDF base on the island.