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Bodies of Japanese WWII soldiers found in Palau cave

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Artillery heat, Letter hides in pocket, Ink fades far from home.

(Christina Felizzi)

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Who is that standing in the end of the tunnel in the first picture???

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Who is that standing in the end of the tunnel in the first picture??? Very good question. Sure looks like some sort of apparition to me.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Is this news or a surprise. I am a little confused. 2300 missing bodies. They are expected to be in caves that were sealed off after the war. They open said caves. They found bodies. If it rains the ground gets wet.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Japan should have paid to clear the caves a long, long, long time ago.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

It is widely known that many Japanese soldiers garrisoned in these remote islands died because of hunger, as opposed to enemy fire.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Cave entrances were blow up during the fighting to eliminate the threat of those inside to the US Marines outside. Over the years recently a team of Explosives experts who retired in Palau have been clearing the area where the battles took place in Peleliu. So if there is a person in the cave, this is because the cave was declared "clear" long before this article was published. And yes, you can tour some of these caves. They are open to the public.

Now you know the rest of the story

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Ballinger, whose team has been operating in Palau to clear remnants of WWII ordnance for six years, added to the broadcaster that the bodies would be repatriated.

Good. And I hope they are accorded all the military honor they deserve.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

nice haiku, appropriate, always sad - but nice that they are finding their way home at last

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Perkins so how many Japanese were sealed in the caves while still alive? Did you know this was a common practice of the Americans during the Okinawa invasion? Though many of these caves only had civilians. I find this story disturbing on so many levels.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

Did you know this was a common practice of the Americans during the Okinawa invasion? Though many of these caves only had civilians. I find this story disturbing on so many levels.

Many of the Okinawans were forced to commit suicide rather than surrender to the "barbaric Americans", and those who refused were killed by the IJA for treachery (Yet another case of how Okinawa has been screwed over by Japan) Those Okinawans who were fortunate enough to surrender were actually treated better by the Americans than they were by Japan. Until the Vietnam War Okinawan people had a good opinion of the US. Back on topic, I hope the remains of the soldiers are laid to rest with honour

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Salute to fallen soldiers.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Thousands of remains of fallen Japanese servicemen have yet to be repatriated. Is there any clearer indication by the Japanese that they want to acknowledge as little as possible about anything to do with the war? To think that all these conscripted men died in vain for a cause rooted at preserving what little glory Tojo and his cadre in China have gained is a hollow ring to say the least when Japan's war crimes on the continent and alliance with Nazis, happenings remote from these Pacific shores are added to the perspective.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Surely those caves should be treated as war graves?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Thousands of remains of fallen Japanese servicemen have yet to be repatriated. Is there any clearer indication by the Japanese that they want to acknowledge as little as possible about anything to do with the war? To think that all these conscripted men simply died in vain for a cause rooted at preserving what little glory Tojo and his cadre had managed to gain in China has a hollow ring to it, when Japan's war crimes on the continent and alliance with Nazis, events far from the concerns of everyone who went through the ordeal of death, disease and hunger in these Pacific shores, are added to the perspective.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

"Many of the Okinawans were forced to commit suicide..."

Sorry, there is no such thing as "forced suicide." It was murder, plain and simple. And the victims of the Japanese soldier zealots in those caves were women, children, the elderly and student nurses.

I don't think these remains deserve any particular honor, beyond repatriation to families, no more than granting honors to, say, Nazi remains in a bunker in Poland.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I hope they can be returned to their families and finally rest in peace.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

War is war, it is kill or be killed , What for, because some one, somewhere wants more . That's it All wars are Bad for both sides especially the civilians.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Glad they were found, can be repatriated, and finally rest in peace. It took a long time, but they were found.

YuriOtani: What's disturbing about it? People long dead have been found and repatriated. If they had not committed to war and hid in the tunnels to begin with, they would not be dead -- or at least not killed as such. And who said these people were alive when the tunnel was sealed? They may have been killed first by artillery, cave in from shelling, shot... who knows? As for you blaming this on Americans and comparing it to Okinawa, don't forget the forced suicides by your own country-men, Yuri. And what should the Americans have done during war if not seal off a threat? Should they have done like Japan and massacred heaps of innocents (Japanese or otherwise) because the Americans were making grounds or they questioned the peoples' loyalty? Captured them and made them march until they died? Had a sword contest with them? Live vivisection? Test out new chemicals on them while still alive? Use them as sex-slaves?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Jeff Lee

I don't think these remains deserve any particular honor, beyond repatriation to families, no more than granting honors to, say, Nazi remains in a bunker in Poland.

You mean like this?

http://www.thelocal.de/20111022/38375

At least 22,000 Germans buried here. It's in Poland:

http://en.tracesofwar.com/article/3469/German-War-Cemetery-Laurah%FCtte.htm

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yuri, go back and read what Christopher Glen wrote....please.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Surely those caves should be treated as war graves?

Not if the nation of Palau thinks otherwise, and it seems they do. They have no obligation to think otherwise, and Japan certainly has no right to demand otherwise. If Palau demanded Japan clear those caves and repatriate their dead, they would be totally within their rights to do so and there should be no hard feelings.

Former colonizers should not be be able to use corpses as a method of continuing to hold the land of the colonized.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I was going to say seal the caves, set up shrines and declare them as tombs. However, after reading FrancescoB's comments, I have changed my mind. I doubt it if the people of Palau have very fond memories of their occupation under Japanese rule, so it wouldn't be much of a surprise if they wanted to erase any memories of Japanese soldiers.The decision about what to do with the Japanese soldiers' remains is in the hands of the people of Palau.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tourism is one of Palau's main industries, with the majority of its tourists coming from Japan and Taiwan.

Just saying.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

bruinfan and other Americans I never had "fond" memories of the American occupation. Food meant for the Okinawan people was stolen and sold to others. There was mass starvation after the war in their Concentration camps the only crime was being "Japanese". About the caves people often killed themselves to avoid being burned alive. The Americans sealed the caves for their convenience not caring about civilians or soldiers. I really love to read things by outsiders about how the Okinawa people feel and about how the draftees who were scared and hungry being war criminals. As long as Americans view all Japanese nations during WWII there will never be an understanding. I really want the US to mind its own business and leave Japan.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Sorry, YuriOtani, I was giving an opinion about the people of Palau not having fond memories of Japanese occupation, and let's face it, with the exception of Taiwan, the Japanese were cruel & brutal in every country they occupied during those dark years. However, your sense of injustice at the hands of the Americans and its Allies is understandable considering the degree of censorship which exists in Japan regarding its own vague recollection of Japanese military history during WWII. I'm just happy the Axis nations lost and the Allies won, otherwise, we'd all be living under military rule and racist doctrines, some of us even being systematically exterminated.

Anyway, again, the decision of what to do with the WWII remains of the Japanese soldiers is in the hands of the people of Palau. For the sake of argument and good relations with Japan, they should invite the proper authorities from Japan to come and remove them and to take those remains back to Japan.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

About the caves people often killed themselves to avoid being burned alive

Again, they either had no choice,(IJA personell standing by to ensure compliance) or they were brainwashed into expecting horrible things from the Americans if they surrendered. And yes, some of them were burned alive. It was a tragedy, but that's war. The remains of all war dead should be treated with respect - but not politicised (like with Yasukuni shrine)

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I will give you some perspective from a Palauan from Peleliu and not a Japanese from Okinawa. The Japanese ruled the islands for about 30 years between WWI and WWII, they were cruel overlords and mainly used the Palauan people for physical labor. During the war they actually brought some Indian Gurka prisoners to Palau to work and through deprivation and hard work, they literally worked them to death. During this long occupation, the Japanese created an extensive cave network. These were for soldiers, not civilians, and were defensive. After about 10 months of brutal fighting the Allied soldiers closed the caves rather than continue fighting and I suppose you could say the Japanese soldiers died of explosions, suffocation, starvation, injuries, self inflicted death and it's probably not a far stretch to include fire. There were even caves not much more than a small opening where we would find one body sitting neatly with all their possessions. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say possibly suicide. After the war, the islands were administered by the US under a UN mandate. The Japanese government repeatedly asked the US for permission to collect their war dead. The US refused mainly because of worry that US remains might go to Japan. As forensics developed, the US finally agreed 40 years after the war. The first recovery team came about 1976. They were shown many remains and found more themselves. They had cremations in the cemetery and took the remains back to Japan. They actually found some remains that they could identify and a couple that they could identify and actually knew the families. In the past 40 years, Japanese soldier remains have been available for recovery. The responsibility rests mainly with the Japanese or expert groups because of the danger of explosives and the lack of heavy equipment. Search and recovery is not in the realm of the Peleliu people and not an expense the Palauan government is interested in making.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Yuri time to open your eyes

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It has been very interesting to read these comments. Yuri and the other Japanese people that want to know the truth about the Japanese government's complete lack of interest in recovering their war dead, should read the book "The Bone Man of Kokoda" by Charles Happell. I lived in Papua New Guinea for 8 years and this story is about the extraordinary story of Koichi Nishimura and the Kokoda Track. Nishimura fought their in 1942 where the Japanese army lost thousands and thousands of Men. Compelled by a feeling of responsibility for his comrades, Nishimura returned to PNG in 1979 and spent the following 25 years alone out on the Kokoda Track, recovering the bodies of dead Japanes troops. Never once did the Japanese Government ever offer to help or provide funds to assist him. Never once did the Japanese Government respond to his repeated request for help. Even after Nishimura had recovered literally hundreds of the bodies of his comrades and stored them, the Japanese Embassy in Port Moresby and the Japanes Government refused to show any interest in taking these men back to Japan. What is even more disgraceful is that to this day - 70 years later, the Japaneese government still denies their responsibility for their despicable actions in WW2 by ensuring that their young people in school are not taught anything about the butchery and war crimes they committed. And if you ever wondered why a similar War Crimes tribunal was never set up for the Japanese - as it was in Nuremburg to bring the Nazis to justice, read some of Sterling Seagraves books about how agreements were made by General MacArther with Hirohito and the Japanese government after the war. And yes, it was largely about the non-return of treasures looted by the Japanese from China and the many other countries they invaded. Loot that has still never been returned to this day.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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