Japan to resume collecting remains of war dead in Philippines

Kyodo News

Posted at Sep 28 2018 11:11 PM

Japan will resume next month a project to recover the remains of Japanese war dead in the Philippines, dispatching personnel to the Southeastern Asian country, the welfare ministry said Friday.

The project, which has been suspended since 2010, will see a group dispatched to the Philippine main island of Luzon from Oct. 9 to 17 to probe the remains discovered with items believed to have belonged to perished Japanese troops. They will also interview residents in areas where Japanese war dead were possibly buried, the ministry said.

The project was put on hold due to the possibility that bones other than those of Japanese nationals were mistakenly collected, but the governments of Japan and the Philippines signed a memorandum of understanding in May to resume the project.

Japan will send another group to receive the remains of the war dead, once they are verified through DNA analysis.

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, about 370,000 sets of remains of Japanese troops who died in the Philippines during World War II are still there, and aging family members of the war dead are hoping for an early resumption of the project.

In 2011, the ministry said in a report that of 311 sets of remains stored in the Philippines, samples taken from 130 have been examined, and just five appeared to be those of Japanese nationals. They were not able to extract DNA samples from 20 sets.

The ministry also received a report the following year from experts who examined DNA contained in the rest of 181 sets of remains that they were unlikely to be those of Japanese nationals.