SYDNEY (Kyodo) The skeletal remains of four Imperial Japanese Army soldiers discovered last year in Papua New Guinea were handed over to Japanese officials Friday, the Australian Associated Press reported.

The remains were found on Mount Bellamy in the thick jungles of the Kokoda Track, the scene of intense fighting between Japanese and Australian soldiers during World War II.

Some 13,700 Japanese and 3,025 Australian soldiers were killed during the Japanese campaign to isolate Australia from the Allied forces.

Wayne Weatherall of Kokoda Spirit Trekking made the discovery. He said he believes that the four soldiers were from the Imperial Japanese Army’s 41st Regiment and were killed in an onslaught by Australia’s 2/16 Battalion.

“At first we thought it was an Australian but we did more digging and found a Japanese helmet,” Weatherall told AAP. “We then found four skeletons, the whole body is there, also with personal effects like watch, compasses and dog tags.”

Although it has taken more than a year to get permission from the Japanese government and local landowners to retrieve the remains, Japanese Embassy officials in Papua New Guinea said they were pleased with the discovery.

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