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Russia is poised to release to Tokyo records shedding light on fate of Japanese prisoners of war

By The Siberian Times reporter
28 August 2012

The documents are expected to help Japan understand the fate of thousands of PoWs in Siberia after the end of the Second World War.

Cemetery by Listvyanka village, lake Baikal, where at least 60 Japanese prisoners of war are buried. Picture:

Soviet records will detail the transport of Japanese people to labour camps. They are expected to give useful information on how and where they died. 

Around 577,000 Japanese soldiers and others were taken to Soviet labour camps in Siberia and Mongolia after the war.

Most eventually returned home, but approximately 53,000 perished in camps while the  fate of about 18,000 is unknown.

'By analysing the data, the records may shed light on who died where and how', said an official from the Health, Labour and Welfare ministry in Tokyo.

'It may say something about those who died while being transported between labour camps. This kind of data has never been made available before'.

The records are kept in an archive in Moscow. 

Officials from Japan are currently on a visit to Moscow and are being shown several hundred thousand documents relating to the escorting of foreign PoWs.

'In April 1991, Moscow began offering to Tokyo the list of Japanese POWs who died while being detained and so far, the records of some 41,000 soldiers and copies of some 700,000 registration cards of the detainees' labour camps were transferred to Japan,' said Kyodo News.

'Based on those materials, the Japanese government identified about 36,000 deceased detainees and began collecting the remains of them.'

New data from Moscow - which will be passed to Tokyo next year - may shed light on the place and cause of death among those whose fate is so far unknown. 

Reports in Japan say that Russia alerted Tokyo to the existence of records concerning Japanese PoWs.

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