With the remains of some 10,000 Imperial Japanese soldiers still unaccounted for on Iwojima island, one seemingly impenetrable final resting site is beneath a runway still in use.
Now, with the development of a new cutting-edge radar system, the Japanese government believes it can bring more of their soldiers home. The team said it will start surveying the runway by the end of the year.
The radar is capable of locating heavily fortified dugouts where soldiers once hid at depths of up to 10 meters and of detecting remains up to four meters underground, according to a government team searching for remains on Iwojima.
“Now that we can survey wider areas with the radar, we hope we will collect more remains,” said a senior member of the team.
In the Battle of Iwojima in the Pacific War, about 22,000 Imperial Japanese soldiers were killed in the bloody fighting from February to March 1945.
The government has worked to collect their remains since 1952, but the efforts have not been as successful as hoped since the 1990s.
The government established a search team of officials from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the Defense Ministry and other entities in 2010. Referring to U.S. documents, the team found the remains of some 1,300 people by July this year mainly on the west side of the runway and to the northeast of Mount Suribachiyama on the southwestern tip of the island.
The runway, originally used by the Imperial Japanese military, was substantially expanded by the U.S. military to 2,650 meters long and 60 meters wide. Iwojima was returned to Japan in 1968, but the runway has never been dug up to look for remains because the U.S. military and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces are still jointly using it.
The team, believing that remains likely lie under the runway, launched the development of the radar. The mobile radar equipment was finished in late July and has been tested on Iwojima, the team said.
The team will use the radar to search under the runway at night, when aircraft are not using the strip, and will study ways to retrieve any remains that are detected.
- « Prev
- Next »