Volunteers excavate remains

Volunteers excavate remains

On March 15 in Urasoe, Isamu Kuniyoshi explains the remains that they found in a Japanese army shelter.

March 17, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

At least ten sets of remains were found recently at a former Imperial Japanese Army shelter near the boundary between Shuri in Naha and Urasoe. Naha resident Isamu Kuniyoshi who has collected remains for many years, and his friends dug in the shelter and collected many things such as army boots and helmets, ammunition, grenades and flares. A small structure just a few meters wide, the shelter is located on top of a hill overlooking the former headquarters of the 32nd Army at Shuri. Kuniyoshi and his colleagues excavated the site over a period of about two weeks, finding remains and personal effects scattered in the sediment.

The number of thigh bones suggest that there could be the remains of at least ten people inside. They also found skulls, pelvises, collarbones and parts of jawbones with teeth attached. They have dug about three or four meters in from the entrance, but soil collapsed in the shelter has blocked further progress.

“No doubt as we go further in, we will find more remains and personal effects,” said Kuniyoshi. So far they have found 120 bullets and 25 grenades, including Japanese bullets with a square cartridge and American bullets that are cylindrical in shape. Ordnance left behind would seem to be anti-tank shells. They also found square sake cups packed with explosive “fulminating powder” that Japanese soldiers would wear in some form of jacket as they dashed themselves against enemy tanks.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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