The government has discovered a document that show locations of entrances to underground bunkers dug by the now-defunct Japanese Imperial Army on the Pacific Ocean island of Iwojima during World War II, a government source said Monday.
The document was found at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration during a U.S. visit last month by Hiranao Honda, an adviser to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. It will be released to the public on Friday, the source said.
Many Japanese soldiers are believed to have died in dugouts while Japan and the United States fought fierce battles on the island during the closing days of the war.
“If we can identify underground bunkers, search work could make a significant progress,” said Honda, who heads a government team to collect the remains of Japanese soldiers.
The document—a map of Iwojima, now officially called Iwoto, with red marks on the entry points to bunkers and facilities—was made by the 3rd U.S. Marine Division, which took part in the battle of Iwojima in 1945, for offensive purposes.
The Japanese government has been stepping up efforts to retrieve the remains of soldiers, setting the three years from April 2011 as an intensive search period.
While roughly 22,000 Japanese soldiers are estimated to have died on the island, the remains of only 9,881 had been collected by the end of March this year.