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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 August 24 - 30  > Ex-Japanese POWs want remains of the dead to be collected
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2016 August 24 - 30 [PEACE]

Ex-Japanese POWs want remains of the dead to be collected

August 24, 2016
A memorial service for former Japanese prisoners of war in Siberia and Mongolia took place on August 23 at Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery in Tokyo. All attendees held a moment of silence for the dead after the song which is said to have often been sung by the Japanese captives in internment camps was sung solo.

The ceremony has been annually held since 2002 on the day when then Soviet Union leader Stalin in 1945 issued a secret order to transfer 500,000 Japanese soldiers as POWs off to Siberia for compulsory labor. As a result, more than 60,000 out of the 600,000 people sent to Siberia or Mongolia died of hunger and from the bitter cold as well as the heavy labor. The remains of 33,000 people are still left behind in the former Soviet Union’s territories.

Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives Hatano Kimie attended the service along with an acting Labor Minister and lawmakers from each political party.

Hatano gave a speech at the ceremony, saying, “The average age of the formerly detained soldiers is now 93. Bereaved families are getting old, too. I will make efforts to work to upgrade this gathering to be a national event. I will also work hard to protect the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution and revoke the controversial war legislation in order not to allow Japan to go to war again.”

A representative of the ceremony organizer said, “We see no progress at all in collecting the remains of the dead and finding out what really happened to them.” He added with his regrets, “The internees did not die on the field of battle. Many of them died of malnutrition. Why did so many soldiers have to die after the end of the war?”

Past related articles:
> Materials related to Japanese POWs in Siberia and Nanjing Massacre inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage list [October 11, 2015]
> Memorial service held for ex-Japanese POWs in Siberia and Mongolia [August 24, 2015]
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