MANILA -- A Filipino tribal leader has denounced Japan's welfare ministry for its seeming refusal to accept that ancestral graves were robbed and the remains sold as those of fallen Japanese soldiers in World War II.
The ministry has, however, acknowledged that some of the bones, collected under a program to recover remains from the war, apparently bore characteristics of Filipinos.
"I am furious over the result of the ministry's investigations," Aniw Lubag, 41, president of an organization that represents the Hanunuo Mangyan people, an ethnic group based on the central island of Mindoro. "The Japanese government should admit to its own responsibility."
He spoke to The Asahi Shimbun by phone on Oct. 6.
His organization argues that remains of more than 1,000 people were stolen from burial caves and other gravesites.
He said two of three male tomb robbers caught in June 2010 confessed they had stolen bones to sell to a Japanese nonprofit organization handling the recovery work.
"It is unforgivable that they concluded, without proper investigations, that no testimony was available to associate the recovery program with the theft of bones," Lubag said.
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