BOSTON (Kyodo) Frank Hobbs, an 85-year-old former U.S. soldier, returned a photograph and other personal belongings from World War II to the daughter of a Japanese soldier Saturday.
The belongings of Matsuji Takekawa, who died at age 37 in the Battle of Iwojima, were returned to Yoko Takekawa, 64, who currently lives in New Jersey.
Matsuji Takekawa owned a liquor shop in Sanjyo, Niigata Prefecture, when he was drafted and sent to the war.
The items include a photo of Yoko Takekawa taken on the 100th day after she was born and a drawing of an air-raid drill by her older sister, Chie, now 72, when she was in the second grade, and an envelope in which the items were contained.
Yoko Takekawa received the items at Hobbs’s house in Boston.
“I felt his cordiality as he treasured them for a long time. I will take back them to our home in Niigata,” she said.
A tearful Hobbs expressed his delight, saying he was happy to find the soldier’s relatives after continuous efforts looking for them despite being asked to donate the items to a museum.
According to the Japanese Consulate General in Boston, U.S. soldiers most commonly took items like Japanese swords and flags from battlefields, and it is rare that one kept a photo and drawing, and to return such items.
Hobbs was drafted when he was a student and landed on Iwojima in March 1945. He found the envelope protruding from the pocket of the Japanese soldier as he lay in front of a cave, and took it with the permission of his superior officer.
Hobbs preserved the items by laying them in lavender and putting them in a frame, but he recently came to think that he wanted to return them to the owner’s relatives while he was still alive.
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