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Russia to provide records of Japanese POWs

Kyodo

Russia will release to Japan the transport records on Japanese prisoners who were taken to labor camps in Siberia and Mongolia after the war, Japanese officials said Monday.

The records of Russian convoys kept at a public archive in Moscow will be the first materials on transfers of prisoners offered to Japan, Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry officials said.

The ministry said its officials are on a five-day visit to Moscow from Sunday to discuss with their Russian counterparts ways to obtain copies of the records. They will also examine several hundred thousand documents at the archives that record the transfers of foreign POWs to sort out those involving Japanese.

The government estimates about 577,000 Japanese soldiers were taken prisoner by Soviet forces after Japan’s 1945 surrender. Of them, about 55,000 died while engaged in forced labor in severe living conditions and while suffering malnutrition.

In April 1991, Moscow began offering to Tokyo lists of Japanese prisoners who had died in captivity, providing records on some 41,000 soldiers and the copies of some 700,000 registration cards.

Based on those materials, the government identified about 36,000 dead and began efforts to retrieve their remains.

The new data to be provided by Moscow in fiscal 2013 could shed light on the location and cause of death of Japanese prisoners who were not listed in the materials formerly made available to Tokyo, the ministry officials said.