10 sets of human remains unearthed in Japanese Army fortified shelter in Urasoe

10 sets of human remains unearthed in Japanese Army fortified shelter in Urasoe

Human remains unearthed in an Imperial Japanese Army shelter. Zensei Takaesu works on collecting remains in the shelter in the Maeda district of Urasoe.

December 29, 2013 Yoshiki Nagahama of Ryukyu Shimpo

A volunteer collecting remains of war dead unearthed ten sets of human remains in an Imperial Japanese Army shelter in the Maeda district of Urasoe on December 28.

Nine of them had teeth, creating the possibility for the researchers to collect DNA samples. Some of the items found have names on them, such as “Kuniyoshi” on a razor and “Araki” on a triangle ruler. This may assist in identifying the remains.
Naha resident 62-year-old Zensei Takaesu found the remains. He said, “I think there are still more in there.”

Takaesu started excavating from July after gaining permission from the landowners. He has worked collecting remains with 71 people helping him along the way. All of the remains had little damage. The passage of 68 years since the end of the war has seen about 180 centimeters of dirt build up in the shelter and the walls calcify. Takaesu plans to put the earth dug out of the shelter back within the year.

Maeda was the scene of some of the most significant and bloodiest fighting during the Battle of Okinawa. More than 60 percent of the Japanese soldiers killed in the battle died at the front line that ran from Kakazu to Shuri and included Maeda.

A razor bearing the name "Kuniyoshi" and the bones thought to be of its owner.

In order to explain the situation to bereaved families when they receive the remains, Takaesu has carefully recorded the details of the remains and how they were unearthed. He said, “If I do not dig them out, they will lie there forever. When my grandchildren grow up I hope there will be no need for volunteers collecting remains of any war dead.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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