Okinawa Prefecture sets up information center for the remains of victims of the Battle of Okinawa

July 9, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

On July 1, the Okinawa Prefectural Government set up an information-gathering center in an attempt to better coordinate the information available for the recovery of remains of people who died in the Battle of Okinawa.
To make the task of recovering remains more effective, the project aims to share information on work that has previously been undertaken by volunteer groups, the prefecture and the various municipalities.
Based on the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) statement on July 7 that it intends to conduct a DNA analysis of teeth and finger bones that have been found, the prefectural government has indicated that it will request cooperation from the bereaved families within Okinawa and other prefectures for DNA data storage, and will continue discussions with MHLW.

The center will gather information about the remains of victims of the Battle of Okinawa, temporarily store those remains and provide some budgetary support for volunteer groups and individuals.
The center has commissioned the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Foundation to carry out these activities, and has set up an office within the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Park.
The project will cost 14 million yen in 2011, all of which will be provided by the Japanese government. Where necessary, the center will also offer financial assistance to projects such as locating unexploded ordnance.

According to the Welfare and Relief Division of the Okinawa Prefecture Department of Welfare and Health, in recent years, volunteer groups and individuals have conducted 75% of all such recovery work done in the prefecture.

Although the Japanese government has allocated an annual budget of six million yen to the prefecture to carry out this work, it has gone no further than providing information about the remains and destroyed shelters, and has not gone as far as collecting bones or remains.
The budget for the coming years is not yet settled, but a spokesperson for the Welfare and Relief Division said, “We would like to request budget for the next five years based on the achievements to date.”

Following the establishment of the center by the prefecture, Takamatsu Gushiken, the head of Gama Fuya (Cave-diggers), a volunteer group for the recovery and search of the remains of the victims of the Battle of Okinawa, said, “I hope that the center will be able to do something worthwhile for the war dead and their bereaved families.”
He also hopes that the Japanese government will carry out some form of DNA analysis.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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