Six family members of Japanese World War II soldiers were in Indonesia on Monday, along with representatives from each nation’s government, in order to receive the remains of their kin that died in battle from a village in the easternmost province of Papua. Residents of the village gave them some 9,000 bone fragments of 134 Japanese soldiers who, until now, were never repatriated.
In a ceremony that included a 3-hour cremation, Japanese delegation chief Toshinobu Tsuchimoto and Balsazar Doyapo, chief of the village Puay, where the remains had been discovered, set fire to the wood as a joint sign of respect. The cremated remains will be brought back to Japan later this week by government representatives and those from the non-profit organization Pacific War History Museum. Once arriving in Tokyo, the remains will be enshrined at the Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery, which was built in 1959 to house the numerous unknown Japanese soldiers that died overseas during WWII.
In 1964 the Japanese government began facilitating such repatriation efforts from a number of locations, including Papua. Estimates say that roughly 53,000 Japanese soldier died in western New Guinea during WWII, although the remains of only 33,000 have returned to Japan thus far. Another 127,000 are understood to have died in the eastern areas of New Guinea island, which is now recognized as the country Papua New Guinea.
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