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Burial remains of Japanese soldiers transferred back to Japan

Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero signing official paperwork to transfer custody of Japanese soldier remains found across the island, in a floral top.
Office of the Governor of Guam
Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero (L) signed the official paperwork to transfer custody of the burial remains of Japanese soldiers from World War II, to Japan's Ministry of Health.

Over the last few years, Guam's State Historic Preservation Office discovered burial remains of Japanese soldiers from World War II in three different locations, including Pagat and South Pacific Memorial Peace Park.

They were officially transferred into Japanese custody on Wednesday, following Guam's 80th anniversary of liberation day.

Leaders from the island and Japan gathered to repatriate the remains of up to eight Japanese soldiers, back to Japan. Governor Lou Leon Guerrero and Consul-General Rumiko Ishigami of the Japanese embassy signed off the transfer at Adelup.

Governor Leon Guerrero said returning the remains is the "most civil and right thing to do," in partnership with their Japanese ally.

"We will never forget the atrocities of war," said Leon Guerrero. "But that doesn't stop us from forgiving."

Liberation Day commemoration services are held annually across Guam, marking the invasion by U.S. military forces on July 21, 1944, which ended the Japanese occupation.

Ishigami expressed her confidence that the repatriated soldiers will now be able to rest "peacefully", as they finally return home after being abroad for about 80 years.

"As we mark the 80th anniversary of Guam's liberation, I'm happy for the close friendship that Japan and Guam have come to foster, despite the sacrifices that the war survivors have had to endure," said Ishigami.

Naina Rao serves as Isla Public Media's first News Director. She's extensively produced for National Public Radio's Morning Edition, Culture Desk, and 1A.