Five members of a group of Japanese returnees from places in what is now considered North Korea plan to survey cemeteries in the reclusive country to help return the remains of Japanese who died there near the end of the war, it was learned Saturday.
The members of Zenkoku Seishinkai, based in Kyoto, will leave Japan on Monday and arrive in Pyongyang on Tuesday via Beijing, a source close to the group said.
The five, including Sadao Masaki, the group’s secretary general, will travel with a North Korean escort to the country’s northeast, where they will visit cemeteries in Chongjin and Hamhung and near Wonsan, the source said.
They are to confirm where the remains are buried and do advance research in preparation for their return and for visits by related kin, the source said. They will stay until Sept. 6 and return the same day via Beijing.
The group has some 250 members, most of whom lived in Chongjin during the war and returned to Japan.
Due to their advanced age, the group is stepping up efforts to visit the cemeteries as soon as possible.
The return of the remains was discussed in Beijing earlier this month by the Japanese Red Cross Society and its North Korean counterpart in what was the first meeting between the two sides in 10 years.
Intergovernmental talks between Japan and North Korea will be held for the first time in four years on Wednesday.
Isle protests continue
Anti-Japan protests took place Sunday in two Chinese cities as people continued to assert Beijing’s sovereignty over the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
In the second consecutive weekend of anti-Japan events in China, a demonstration in Zhuji, Zhejiang Province, drew about 1,000 people while another in Haikou, Hainan Province, drew a few hundred.
Protesters carried placards reading, “Get out of the Diaoyu Islands, Japan,” as they marched through the streets of the two cities.
The Okinawa Prefecture islands, known as Diaoyu in China, are also claimed by Taiwan, which calls them Tiaoyutai.
The protests apparently arose in response to calls made via Internet sites to stage protests Sunday in the two cities and elsewhere after Japan arrested a group of Chinese activists for landing on Uotsuri, the largest of the islets, earlier this month. They were interrogated and deported two days later.
Similarly, about 1,000 people took part in a protest Sunday in Rizhao, Shandong Province, calling for a boycott of Japanese products. Some protesters turned violent and smashed the windows of a Japanese restaurant.
Authorities have tightened security to prevent the demonstrations from escalating before the Communist Party reshuffles its leadership at the quinquennial party congress this fall.
Some anti-Japan protests in China in 2010 turned into antigovernment demonstrations to denounce the widening economic gap between the rich and the poor, as well as corruption in the bureaucracy.
Last Sunday, anti-Japan demonstrations took place in several major cities.
During a protest in Shenzhen, next to Hong Kong, some of the participants turned violent and vandalized Japanese restaurants and Japanese vehicles.