Waves unearth remains of 'WWII Japan soldiers' in Pacific

Updated: 2014-06-10 07:30

By Agence France-Presse in Tokyo (China Daily)

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The skeletal remains of what are believed to be Japanese soldiers have been exposed on a remote Pacific island where waves have eroded the sea shore, a Japanese government official said on Monday.

The bodies of around 20 men have emerged from the earth at a small coastal cemetery because of the action of the ocean on the Marshall Islands, a place scientists have long warned is vulnerable to rising sea levels caused by climate change.

"The government of the Marshall Islands has informed us that remains of about 20 human bodies have been exposed on the seashore of Enniburr island," said a Japanese official, referring to one of the small islands that forms part of the nation.

Waves unearth remains of 'WWII Japan soldiers' in Pacific

"The remains, believed to be those of Japanese soldiers, surfaced after waves eroded a cemetery built on the seashore, according to the Marshall Islands government," he said.

The Marshall Islands, like other Pacific island nations, are increasingly being threatened by rising sea levels, which have left previously safe parts of the shore at risk from erosion.

"If they are remains of Japanese soldiers, it would be a rare case of waves eroding the seashore to expose them," the official added.

Japan has for decades been trying to retrieve the remains of millions of Japanese nationals - including soldiers - scattered throughout the Asia-Pacific, swathes of which were controlled by the Japanese military until the later years of World War II.

Japan controlled the Marshall Islands from 1914 until the end of the war, when they were taken by the United States. The island country, made of more than two dozen atolls, became independent in 1986, but part of it - Kwajalein Atoll, where Enniburr island also sits - remains under the control of the US.

"Japan will probably send a team for the exposed human remains, but no concrete plan has been made yet since it is under the management of the US military," he said.

 Waves unearth remains of 'WWII Japan soldiers' in Pacific

A cemetery on the shoreline in Majuro Atoll is flooded from high tides and ocean surges in 2008.The skeletal remains of what are believed to be Japanese soldiers have been exposed on the remote Pacific island of Enniburr, a Japanese official said on Monday. Giff Johnson / Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 06/10/2014 page10)