旧日本兵遺骨 着実な収集こそ国の責務だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Oct. 10, 2011)
Govt must collect remains of soldiers in reliable way
旧日本兵遺骨 着実な収集こそ国の責務だ(10月9日付・読売社説)

Many bereaved families of the war dead must have been profoundly troubled to hear the news: The ashes from about 4,500 sets of remains that were collected in the Philippines and kept at the Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery in Tokyo are suspected to have been mixed with remains of people other than Japanese soldiers, according to investigations by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

Two years ago, the ministry commissioned the task of searching for and collecting the remains of Japanese soldiers who perished in the Philippines during World War II to a Japanese nonprofit organization.

DNA tests conducted on some of the remains before they were transported to Japan, however, showed about 50 percent of the bones may have been those of Filipinos.

The ministry says it will thoroughly revamp how remains are recovered, a process that has largely been left up to the private-sector body.

About 2.2 million Japanese soldiers perished overseas during the war.

Remains of half of them have yet to be repatriated.


Bones of Filipinos 'sold'

The collection of those remains is definitely the government's responsibility and must be done in a way that is beyond reproach.

Collection in the Philippines was initially undertaken directly by the government, with officials from the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry supervising the operations.

At one time, about 10,000 sets of remains a year were recovered in this manner, but the figure gradually dwindled to no more than 24 in fiscal 2005.

Subsequently, the management of the search and collection project was delegated to the nonprofit organization.  その後、現地に詳しいNPO法人に収集が委託された。

One reason for this was that many remains were left in mountainous regions with poor security conditions.
After delegating the operation to the NPO, the ministry began identifying Japanese soldiers' remains based on witness accounts of local residents and verification by local experts.

Locals were paid cash for discovering remains.

Subsequently, the number of remains collected increased sharply, with 6,289 sets collected in fiscal 2010.

However, according to eyewitness reports, bones of Filipinos were being sold to the Japanese side.

There also were reports that graves of Filipinos were being robbed for the bones.

Under the circumstances, it is very difficult to determine if the "discoverers" of remains were lying.

The suspicion that remains of people other than Japanese soldiers have been collected and handed over to the government must be addressed.


Direct confirmation

The ministry says there is no firm evidence that repatriated Japanese soldiers' remains were mixed with those of Filipinos.

But it cannot be denied that the way remains have been collected is highly problematic.

From now on, officials from the ministry and local experts in the Philippines will authenticate remains at the sites where they are found, according to the ministry.

DNA profiling will also be conducted on remains, and discoverers will no longer be paid, the ministry says.

The ashes of the 4,500 sets of remains that were earlier stored at the Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery dedicated to the war dead have been moved into the mortuary in the ministry's building.

As the remains have already been cremated, however, it is very hard to conduct DNA tests on them.

To prevent such things from happening again, the government must exercise great care in future search and collection activities.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 9, 2011)
(2011年10月9日01時21分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2011-10-11 06:02 | 英字新聞

<< ウォール街デモ―「99%」を政... 香山リカのココロの万華鏡:いく... >>