Japanese World War II Survivors Seek Permission From Guam To Search For War Remains

Only 500 of estimated 20,000 killed during the war have been repatriated

By John I Borja

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, July 11, 2017) – Seventy-three years after Guam’s liberation, Japanese World War II survivor Kazuo Hoshi, 87, returned to the island to search for an area where he and other Japanese nationals hid.

Hoshi and board members of the Japan Association for Recovery and Repatriation of War Casualties are visiting Guam to obtain permission to survey the land for the remains of Japanese nationals who died during World War II.

It’s part of required research assigned to the organization by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, according to Luckie Sakamoto, the organization's interpreter. Along with the research, which will take years, the organization is tasked to assist with the collection and repatriation of remains, according to the government entity's website.

The repatriation efforts align with a recent Japanese law that mandates the government take responsibility for the collection of Japanese remains from the war. Prior to the law's enactment, research and collection of remains was done largely by volunteer groups at their own expense.

Representatives from the association came to the island to look at several locations where Japanese stragglers were hiding. Fourteen-year-old Hoshi was among a group of civilian meteorology recruits working for the Japanese Navy at the time of Guam's liberation in 1944. He evaded American soldiers for eight years until he surrendered in 1952.

Hoshi, through a translator, said he hid along the coastline of Tarague Beach with other meteorology workers and Japanese soldiers. With representatives of the Japanese organization, Hoshi spent nine hours in the jungle Monday, hiking through the jungles above the beach to look for familiar sights.

According to the association, close to 20,000 Japanese died on Guam during the war, and of those, 500 remains have been repatriated.

Pacific Daily News
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