Sunday, July 02, 2006

Lost In Translation, Missing Since WWII, Not A Soldier

Yoshiteru Nakagawa, on wheel chair, is greeted by his sister Tomiko Orui, right, as he arrives at Shin Chitose airport, in Chitose, northern Japan, Sunday, July 2, 2006. A 79-year-old Japanese man who was left behind at the end of World War II and recently surfaced in Russia returned to his homeland Sunday for the first time in 67 years to be reunited with his relatives. Image Credit: AP Photo/Kyodo News, Takuro Yabe

This is reminiscent of the time in the late 1970's when a couple of Japanese soldiers "gave themselves up" on Guam, making them the last soldiers fighting WWII to end hostilities.

It is important to note the soldiers on Guam hid out underneath a remote waterfall area in the jungle on the 7 mile by 37 mile island and did not make themselves known to the inhabitants, many of whom were military enjoying a day off swimming in the blue atoll lagoons that surround the island.

This man was hiding in plain sight. It was erroneously recorded that he was missing when, at the age of 12, he was left behind through the exodus from the northern island of Sakhalin (an island about 1/3 the size of the main island of Japan). The Japanese had inhabited this island until Soviet Russia seized control of Sakhalin in the closing days of WWII.

Excerpts from AP via Yahoo! News -

Man missing since WWII returns to Japan
Associated Press - 2 hours, 37 minutes ago

TOKYO - A 79-year-old Japanese man who went missing at the end of World War II and resurfaced nearly six decades later in Russia went back to his homeland Sunday to be reunited with relatives.

Yoshiteru Nakagawa, who disappeared on Sakhalin island in 1945 when the Soviets took it over from Japan, arrived at New Chitose Airport on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido for the first time since he left Japan in 1939, when his family settled on Sakhalin.

"Little did I dream of being able to come back to Japan," Nakagawa, who still lives on Sakhalin, said in halting Japanese as he was escorted to the airport arrival hall, where his relatives greeted him with applause and hugs.

"I'm so overwhelmed with joy I don't even know how to express it in words," he added in Russian.

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He came forward five years ago and notified the Japanese embassy in Moscow of his intention to visit Japan.

About 400,000 Japanese lived on Sakhalin until the Soviet takeover in the closing days of the war. The majority returned to Japan, but many others were detained in prisons in Siberia.

During his two-week visit hosted by his younger sister Toyoko Chiba, Nakagawa plans to meet with other relatives and visit his parents' grave.

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This from Interactive Russia -

Sakhalin Island

Sakhalin (Karafuto in Japanese) is a very long (c.a. 1000 km) but narrow island located between Japanese and Russian maritime territory.

It is separated from Asian continent by a narrow strait of 6 km in width, leading early explorers to record it as a peninsula.

The native people who settled thousands of years ago on Sakhalin Island are the Nivkhi (current population 2,000), the Ul'la or Oroche (population 500) and the Evenki (population 180).

The Nivkhi maintain the allegoric belief that Sakhalin is a giant seal, whose mountains and forests are ruled by the deity, Palis, and whose seas are ruled bu the god, "Tolis".

Rare birds include the white tailed sea eagle, Steller sea eagle, spotted greenshank and Blackston's fish owl.

Brown bears, sable, river otters, musk deer and foxes all live in the forests. Whales, dolphins, sea lions, walruses and a variety of seals feed off Sakhalin's shore line and that of the Kuriles.
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Travel to the place where the world ends. Or begins. Sakhalin and Kuril Islands are so close to Japan, that they are the first region of Russia to see the new day. Visit these marvelous locations for unforgettable experience of exploring wild and untouched land of pristine nature and magnificent volcanoes. This is a tour of exploration, adventure and relaxation from urban life.
Link Here>>

Ahhh! Island living, time to don the swimsuits!

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