It has been 75 years since the pacific war ended but the wounds inflicted by it still haven’t healed.The Great War brought with it the great devastation which everyone is very well aware about. Nations still haven’t come out of their grieving losses, and some like Russia still hasn’t formally ended the war with Japan (although its an another political issue).Japan’s militaristic ambitions of the 1930s and its participation in WWII has become a blot in the history of Japan referred to as “Kurai Tanima”. It’s wartime actions has lead to the strained relations with its neighbors, especially with that of China and Korea, and this irrecoverable past still comes back in light whenever any foreign policy issue arises between the said countries. However, these issues don’t seem to be ending anytime soon when the wounds are still fresh.With the anniversary of the pacific war this year,PM Shinzo Abe, pledged never to repeat the tragedy of war.
In the Memorial Ceremony for the War Dead(held every year on August 15), the emperor and empress of Japan console the souls of over 3 million soldiers who lost their lives during the war. However, half of the bodies of the soldiers haven’t been found (those who died overseas) with their remains scattered throughout Asia. The families still grieve the losses of their kin who died during the war and are waiting for them to return.
To honor the requests of the bereaved families of the soldiers, Japan has undertaken measures to collect the remains of the war dead at the major battlefields where the war took place since FY1952. And by the end of June 2011, approx. 1.27 million remains of 2.40 million war dead have been collected (including those in Iwo Jima and Okinawa). However, those remains which were recovered were not only of the Japanese soldiers alone as many Korean and Taiwanese soldiers also fought on the behalf of Japan.So, DNA analysis of the remains has been introduced from 2003at the national expense by Japan. Although this project wasn’t very welcomed by its neighbors who suffered the cruel atrocities inflicted by Japan, the initiative still got a head start when Japan launched a full-scale mission for the same. However, there are still a considerable amount of remains left unfound. In 2016, an eight-year remains recovery initiative through 2024 was passed by the Japanese parliament. This initiative promotes more DNA matching and cooperation with the U.S. Department of Defense if the remains are found at US military facilities on islands in the southern Pacific that were former battlegrounds. Also, last year the US citizens group searching for American war dead found the remains of 160 Asians on the island of Tarawa — called the Republic of Kiribati today. It has been notified to the respective nations and DNA testing of the remains has been suggested. In the backdrop of this, KazufumiHamai, a Teikyo University historian and an expert on this issue says that this could “set the stage for Japan and South Korea cooperating to identify and return the remains to where they belong”.
The author is currently pursuing post-graduation in East Asian Studies. She is highly enthusiastic in learning new languages and is interested in the culture and society of the East Asian region, particularly the socio-economic aspects and how it influences major policy decisions.