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Government to conduct DNA tests on more remains of war dead

Kyodo

The government will conduct DNA tests on more unidentified remains collected from World War II battlefields and internment areas, and store the results in a database, welfare ministry sources said Tuesday.

The move is part of an effort to identify the war dead and return the remains to aging relatives, as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

DNA tests have previously been limited to remains found near personal belongings bearing names. But they are expected to also be conducted on remains without such items, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry sources said.

The ministry will also receive DNA samples from potential relatives in a bid to match them with the test results, they said.

The new database is likely to contain data on DNA samples taken from the remains of around 8,000 people found in the battlefield in the Philippines, Okinawa and Iwojima (now Iwoto) in the Pacific, as well as areas in the former Soviet Union and Mongolia where Japanese were imprisoned.

The government began collecting samples in fiscal 1999 and launched the DNA analysis in fiscal 2003. But only 2,031 DNA tests have so far been conducted on the remains of the war dead, according to the ministry.