A new legislation proposed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is seeking to make the repatriation of the remains of Japanese soldiers who perished in other countries during World War II to be the responsibility of the state. The bill will be passed by the end of the month and is predicted to not meet any objection domestically, although the objection of China and South Korea, both former colonies of Japan, is expected.
The proposal includes the sending of staff on diplomatic missions to countries where it is known that Japanese soldiers died during the war. They will conduct investigations in the known battlefields and grave sites, as well as receive additional funding for the recover and repatriation of any remains that will be found. Internal Affairs minister Yoshitaka Shindo has been one of the most vocal proponents of this kind of action for the past years, and now that many like-minded politicians are in power, it will probably be made into a law soon.
There is still an estimated 1.13 million Japanese soldiers out of the 2.4 million who died at home and overseas during the war that have not yet been discovered and interred. Majority are believed to have died in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, including in the Philippines, Tarawa, Palau, Guam, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea. Most were probably buried in mass graves, while some were bulldozed into the caves where they held their base camps. Given the deteriorating relationship between Japan and its East Asian neighbors, it is unlikely that they will cooperate in these repatriation efforts.
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