The remains of about 1.13 million Japanese who died overseas during World War II have yet to be recovered despite extensive government efforts, according to government officials.
About 3.1 million Japanese were killed in the war. Of them, about 2.4 million died abroad. The government began efforts to retrieve remains in fiscal 1952, but officials say only about 1.27 million remains have been recovered.
Of the 1.13 million remains still not recovered, about 170,000 are on islands or on the seabed in the central Pacific Ocean, including Peleliu Island.
Over the years, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has collected statements from a number of people, including former Japanese soldiers who returned home after the war, in hopes of gaining some idea as to the whereabouts of the remains.
With the rapid aging of these former soldiers, the ministry shifted its attention to US public records offices to search for relevant US military documents in fiscal 2006.
Despite what was described by the ministry as a huge time-consuming process, only around 50 officials are involved.
The United States has a policy of returning the remains of all dead soldiers to their families, which is carried out by a specialised military organisation.
US officials manage data on more than 80,000 US soldiers who have not been returned home after serving in the Pacific War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
About 500 staff members, including retired soldiers, work to recover the remains.