Japanese end 12-day trip to burial sites in N. Korea

Kyodo

A group of Japanese who used to live in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula wrapped up a 12-day trip to the country after visiting sites believed to contain the remains of family members who died around the end of World War II.

A nine-member delegation of the Kita Izoku Renrakukai group arrived Tuesday at Haneda airport in Tokyo via Beijing after visiting four burial sites in eastern and northeastern North Korea.

Two members of the mission returned to Japan last Thursday.

They visited the Komusan site outside Chongjin in the northeast, the so-called Ryongsan Cemetery in a suburb of Pyongyang and sites in Bupyong and Hamhung in the eastern part of the country.

The visit was the fifth since North Korea allowed a tour last August on humanitarian grounds to study burial sites of Japanese nationals.

The aim of the group is to retrieve the ashes of relatives.

About 34,600 Japanese are believed to have died of hunger and disease during the final phase of World War II in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, according to the Japanese government.

The remains of 13,000 people have already been repatriated to Japan.

The Korean Peninsula was under Japanese rule from 1910 to 1945.