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Japan to search Iwo Jima for war dead

Aug. 20, 2010 at 3:19 PM

TOKYO, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Japanese researchers will spend a week on Iwo Jima searching recently discovered mass graves of Japanese soldiers killed in World War II, authorities said.

Yukihiko Akutsu, a special adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, will take part in the examination of the graves where the U.S. military buried dead Japanese soldiers soon after the fierce battle for the island between Japanese and American troops in 1945, the Mainichi Shimbun reported.

Since the island reverted back to Japan in 1968, annual search activities have taken place leading to the recovery of remains of around 8,700 people.

Last fall, Kan instructed the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to go through some 400,000 pages of U.S. military files at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration in Washington.

Akutsu, who traveled to the National Archives in July, identified records indicating where soldiers had been buried.

The current search will be centered on one of these locations to the south of a current Japan Self-Defense Forces base runway.

Shoichiro Nagasawa, 79, whose father was killed in the battle on Iwo Jima, praised the expedition, saying that he is "thankful that the team will do a thorough job of searching."

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