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Address by Prime Minister Naoto Kan at the
Handover Ceremony for the Remains of the War Dead
in Ioto

February 15, 2011
[Provisional Translation]

As we commence this Handover Ceremony for the Remains of the War Dead in Ioto, I express my sincere mourning for the war dead whose remains are being returned today and for all the departed souls who lost their precious lives in the fierce battle on Ioto wishing for peace for their homeland and safety for their families.

This fiscal year, the remains of 822 war dead are being returned. In undertaking this work to recover the remains, a detailed investigation of documents on the U.S. side was carried out and the scope of areas was widened to those considered to be potential mass burial sites. In addition, through the cooperation of the bereaved families and civil society groups, we advanced our efforts through which the public and the private sectors acted in unison. I express my high regards towards the great hardships borne in conducting this work in this isolated area in such a climate that we perspired even in mid-December, when I participated in the recovery work. The fact that such a tremendous number of remains could be recovered is the product of the dedicated efforts of the persons involved. On this occasion I would like to convey my sincere gratitude.

To the war dead whose remains are being returned today, I express my deep regret at this delay of so many years. On behalf of the government I extend my profound apologies. We, the people of Japan, having inherited the homeland that these war dead staked their lives to defend, have pushed forward resolutely to bring about peace and prosperity through an unwavering determination never to repeat the devastation of war. May these war dead rest in peace, having now been returned to that homeland where their families await them.

On Ioto there are still many war dead awaiting recovery. In order to return their remains at the earliest possible time, it is incumbent upon the nation to continue to undertake thorough recovery efforts in the future. Moreover, I pledge that as a step towards the establishment of lasting peace, we will not allow the heartbreaking history that unfolded on Ioto to be forgotten, instead conveying it to younger generations.

I would like to conclude my address by offering my heartfelt prayers for the repose of the souls of the war dead and for the continued peace of the bereaved families, along with my thanks once more to the people through whose hard work we have recovered these remains.

February 15, 2011
Naoto Kan
Prime Minister of Japan