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Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011

Iwojima search parties resume


The search for the remains of Japanese soldiers lost in the Battle of Iwojima is to resume with the dispatch of a search team Wednesday.

The search was halted by the March 11 disasters and a drought on the island, which is now known as Iwoto.

On Friday, a government panel said in its first meeting since Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's Cabinet was formed in September that it will also increase manpower and funds for the search. Hiranao Honda, a special adviser to Noda, headed the meeting.

The task force also decided to permanently station officials from the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on the island and to increase search team dispatches on a year-round basis from about four times a year.

It also plans to dispatch a separate investigative group to search for mass burial sites at which more than 1,000 soldiers could be buried, based on new information from witness accounts by U.S. war veterans.

The government increased the budget for the project in fiscal 2011 by more than six times the previous year's budget to about ¥1 billion and plans to earmark similar budgets in fiscal 2012 and beyond.

About 22,000 Japanese and 6,800 U.S. soldiers died on the volcanic island about 1,250 km south of Tokyo during a month of fierce battle after the February 1945 U.S. landing.

Only about 9,000 sets of Japanese remains have been recovered from the island.

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