THE Japanese government is preparing to repatriate whatever remains of 32,000 Japanese soldiers who died in the Philippines during the Second World War could be found, an official said.
Although he believes the repatriation will take time, Japan Foreign Ministry deputy press secretary Masato Ohtaka said the Japanese forensic experts will have to extricate whatever bodies they may locate one by one.
“Collection and repatriation of the remains of Japanese soldiers from the Second World War [will be difficult because there] is quite å number of them. We need to step up efforts because the families of these Japanese soldiers are getting older and older,” Ohtaka said.
Ohtaka disclosed that the repatriation of an estimated 10,000 to 32,000 remains is one of the topics discussed during a closed-door meeting between Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and President Rodrigo Duterte.
He said the families of the Japanese soldiers have been asking for the repatriation of the skeletons of their loved ones who died in the country during World War II.
Kishida visited the country from August 11 to 13 to discuss security issues with the Duterte administration amid the ongoing dispute in the South China Sea.
Kishida said in an earlier interview, his visit is meant to affirm Japan’s “friendly ties” with the Philippines, particularly since the Philippines and Japan are celebrating 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
In 2015, the Philippines and Japan signed the Joint Declaration, a strengthened Strategic Partnership for Advancing the Shared Principles and Goals of Peace, Security, and Growth in the Region and Beyond.