20,000 of our soldiers' skeletons in Papua: Japan

20,000 of our soldiers' skeletons in Papua: Japan

Director General of Culture of the Education and Culture Ministry Hilmar Farid (right) and Japanese Ambassador to Indonesia Masafumi Ishii spoke to the press at the Education and Culture Ministry in Jakarta on Tuesday (June 25, 2019) ) (Zuhdiar Laeis)

The figure was based on data released by the Japanese government, but the exact number will certainly depend on the results of a further study in the field, he said, after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indonesian government on
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Nearly 20 thousand skeletons of Japanese soldiers who died during World War II are still buried in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, Japanese Ambassador to Indonesia Masafumi Ishii has claimed.

The figure was based on data released by the Japanese government, but the exact number will certainly depend on the results of a further study in the field, he said, after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indonesian government on extending the repatriation of skeletons Tuesday.

As a follow up to the MoU, the Japanese government will soon send a team to kick-start the process in cooperation with the Indonesian government and local administrations, he said.

He expressed the hope that the team would start working by next year.

Asked about the budget required to repatriate the remains of the soldiers, he said his government will assess the extent to which the activity needs to be carried out. However, the repatriation which is presently at a standstill will be resumed soon.

He said the Japanese government would like to bring back the skeletons which have been in the two provinces for more than 70 years.

Meanwhile, Director of Cultural Reserves and Museums of the Education and Culture Ministry Fitra Arda said he did not know have an exact estimation of the number of skeletons of Japanese soldiers in Papua and West Papua.

"We don't know their number and only after the excavations will we know that. But more importantly, the agreement must involve the local community," he said.

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