60 years after the war, Japanese soldier returns

A former Japanese soldier last seen by his family when he went off to fight in World War II and who later resurfaced in Ukraine arrived in Tokyo on Wednesday on a visit to see his relatives for the first time in 60 years. Ishinosuke Uwano, now 83, seemed surprised by the scrum of reporters waiting as he disembarked at Tokyo’s international airport in Narita with his Ukrainian son, Anatolii Zaichuk. Speaking through an interpreter, Uwano said, “I am very grateful to the Japanese government, which made it possible for me to return home.” “Good afternoon,” he added in Japanese. Uwano said he would go to Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, on Thursday to meet with surviving relatives. He is also expected to pay a call on the deputy governor and stay with his relatives in Iwate – about 470 kilometers, or 290 miles, northeast of Tokyo – for a week. Uwano was a Japanese soldier serving in a force occupying the island of Sakhalin in Russia’s far east when the war ended in August 1945. Suminori Arima, a Health Ministry official in charge of locating war veterans lost overseas, said Uwano was last reported seen there in 1958. It was unclear why and how Uwano ended up in Ukraine. Uwano, who will be in Japan for 10 days,said Wednesday that he had not been able to return earlier “due to the former Soviet regime,” without elaborating. According to Arima, the aging Uwano had asked someone in his local community in Ukraine to help him track down his Japanese relatives. Inquiries by the acquaintance eventually reached the Health Ministry, which sent staff to interview Uwano at the Japanese Embassy in the Ukraine capital, Kiev, Arima said. The Health Ministry declined to provide more information on the former soldier, and details of his Japanese and Ukrainian families were not disclosed. The Kyodo news agency said Uwano moved to Ukraine in 1965 and has three children. He lives in Zhitomyr, a city about 144 kilometers west of Kiev, the report said. The government said it believes about 400 former Japanese World War II soldiers are living in the states of the former Soviet Union; 40 of them have been identified. ((19 APR 2006))

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/19/world/asia/19iht-soldier.html?_r=1

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https://gheorghe47.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/china-rejects-japans-sovereignty-claim-over-senkaku-islands/

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