Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Old Soldiers Never Die

We've heard of Japanese soldiers coming out of the jungles 30 years after World War II ended, still refusing to surrender. But this old soldier takes the prize for turning up long after the battle was over:

A Japanese ex-soldier who disappeared after World War II and was officially declared dead in 2000 has turned up alive in Ukraine, officials say.
Ishinosuke Uwano was serving with the Japanese Imperial Army in Russia's Sakhalin Island when the war ended. He lost contact with his family in 1958.

The 83-year-old has now reappeared, in Ukraine, where he is married and has a family, Japanese officials say.

He is due to visit Japan for the first time in six decades on Wednesday.

Just six years ago, his family officially registered him as having been killed in the war - and his details were removed from the official family registry.

Because of this, Mr Uwano must "return to Japan technically as a Ukrainian citizen with a Ukraine passport," a government official said.


He was one of thousands of Japanese soldiers and civilians who were left stranded across the Pacific and in parts of China and Russia after the war ended.

Some were kept as prisoners and forced to work as slave labourers, others chose to remain of their own accord.

Why Mr Uwano remained in Russia, and how he ended up in Ukraine, has not been disclosed.

One story that hasn't received much coverage--perhaps because of the passage of time and loss of records--is the fate of thousands of Axis POWs held by the Soviets, and even Allied soldiers who ended up behind Soviet lines, who were neither repatriated nor known to have perished in Soviet gulags.

There are probably many more Japanese and German soldiers who simply resigned themselves to never returning home and made new lives for themselves in the former Soviet Union. And perhaps even a few American, British and Canadian soldiers as well.

Theirs is a story that needs to be told.

Source: BBC

1 comment:

Danté said...

You said it. Even now, Russia is keeping the details of what happened to many of them secret - i.e., the Raoul Wallenberg case.

Hundreds of thousands of German POWs marched into captivity, never to return to their homes. They were worked or starved to death, or died from disease or exposure.

We know what happened to them, but who knows when Russia will come clean about things like the Wallenberg Case.