Japan in September resumed the recovery of the remains of World War 2 soldiers in Palau, with a group finding 24 sets of bones believed to be human in Peleliu and Angaur.
The personnel here for the recovery mission was led by Fumihiko Matsumoto, Chief of Intelligence who said that archaeologist have found 20 set of bones in Peleliu and four in Angaur.
DNA samples of the bones will be examined and tested for identification.
Through their translator, Matsumoto said by December the group will be back in Palau anew to cremate the bones.
The group said that more than 10,000 Japanese soldiers died in Palau during the Second World War, with at least 7,800 remains found since then, but the bodies of more than 2,000 haven’t been found.
Matsumoto said the recovery of thousands of remains begun in 2016 and will continue until 2025.
The Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is spearheading the effort, hoping to find the remains to find closure for the aging family members of Japanese soldiers who died in the battle here in Peleliu and Angaur.
The attempt to find the bodies begun in 2015 prior to the visit by Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in Palau.
US marines battled against Japanese troops in Peleliu and Angaur which was considered one of the brutal conflicts in the history of the marines.
In March 2015, Peleliu State Governor Temmy Shmull and President Tommy Remengesau Jr. led the official re-opening of the Iwamatsu or Chiai cave located at the “White Beach” located in Ngerkeuikl.
Shmull in an interview said the opening of the “Iwamatsu” cave is “the beginning of efforts to re-open all the caves in Peleliu.”
There are about 200 caves in Peleliu where it is believed that most Japanese soldier remains lay since after World War II.
During the fierce Peleliu battle, Japanese soldiers used the cave as their defense tactic and that to defeat these soldiers the American soldiers had to seal and collapse the caves to flush them out. (Bernadette H. Carreon)