Complete skeleton found in cave in Yaese believed to belong to Japanese soldier
February 1, 2017 Yukiko Toyohama of Ryukyu Shimpo
On January 31, a complete skeleton believed to belong to a Japanese soldier from the Battle of Okinawa was found in a cave at Asato, Yaese. The remains are complete with a skull, shoulder blades, tailbone, thighbones, shin bones, upper arm bones, etc. Even teeth, specifically three teeth from the left and right sides of the bottom jaw, were found. Mitsuo Matsunaga, the 63-year-old chairman from the NPO Corporation Okinawa Limestone Cave Association in Yaese, has been voluntarily recovering remains for the past 30 years or so. He said, “It’s been 72 years since the war has ended, but the war still isn’t over. It’s rare to excavate a complete skeleton (preserved) so nicely, it’s practically a miracle. If possible, (we) would like to return (the remains) back to the family of the deceased.” He is calling out to people in hopes of gathering more information.
On August 25 and 26 of 1983, the Ryukyu Shimpo published a series of articles titled “Excavating the Ravages of War – Crossroads of Encounters.” Within the series was an article, “44th Independent Mixed Brigade Engineer Unit Headquarters,” which told the story of the unit headquarters previously located in Asato of former Gushichan Village. This article lead to the discovery of the remains. The article recounts the squad being annihilated by the U.S. military’s attack and that about 30 sets of remains had yet to be recovered.
A man from Naha in his 60s who used to visit a cave with his father as a boy to pay their respects had saved the article. Every year, he would visit on the Okinawa Memorial Day and had always wondered if the remains had been recovered or not.
The man then contacted the Okinawa Limestone Cave Association and together, they checked the cave on January 18. Human bones were found three meters below a 60-centimeter hole.
The volunteers, including Matsunaga, then recovered the remains. Items, such as a thermos, a lid from a lunch box, bullet(s), pieces of pottery, and button(s) with four holes were also found. However, none of which could be used to identify the remains. Matsunaga said, “We were able to recover remains based on a testimony. If there is anything more anyone can tell us, we hope that they would share it with us.”
Examiner Osamu Nakano of the Public Interest Incorporated Association Okinawa Memorial Peace Foundation for Fallen Soldiers’ Remains Recovery Information Center surveyed the cave. Judging from the shape of the cave, he believes that it is different from the one that was described in the article. Nonetheless, he said, “(We found) upper arm bones from both the left and right sides and it is a complete skeleton. Looking at the items that were also found at the scene, it is very likely that (the remains) belong to a soldier.” He also calls out to the public for more information. If you have any information, please contact the Okinawa Memorial Peace Foundation for Fallen Soldiers’ Remains Recovery Information Center at 098 (997) 4123.
(English translation by T&CT and Chelsea Ashimine)
Previous Article:Ikei neighborhood association rejects reparations offer, pushes to cease flights over 4 islands
Next Article:Okinawa governor warns forcible construction of a new base will lead to future trouble for Japan-US security relations
- Three remains from the Battle of Okinawa found in Nishihara
- Human bones dating back 9,000 years found at Sakitari Cave
- Okinawa Prefecture sets up information center for the remains of victims of the Battle of Okinawa
- Discovery of oldest East Asian full-body human skeleton at Shiraho Saonetabaru Cave Ruins
- 161 college students from outside of Okinawa engaged in collecting remains of war dead