11 Jul 2016
- By Bryan Manabat - email@example.com - Variety News Staff
KUENTAI-USA, a non-profit organization that searches for and recovers the remains of missing U.S. and Japanese World War II servicemen, held a memorial service Thursday in the Aqua Resort Club parking area where 163 Japanese remains have been recovered and returned to Japan.
The memorial service was located at one of the main battlefields on Saipan, and where mass graves were found.
The memorial service also marked the 71st anniversary of what was called the final Japanese Banzai attack that resulted in 4,311 Japanese and 406 U.S. deaths in just one day.
Before the Kuentai-USA Shinto purification ceremony took place on Thursday, a local man, Ramon P. Crisostimo, presented human skeletal remains which he said should be included in the rites.
“This soldier has a strong wish to come back home,” said Yukari Akatsuka, secretary-general of the Kuentai group, referring to the remains.
Crisostimo, who found the skeletal remains on his Achuagao property, said he is aware of the Kuentai group’s mission.
“It is a good effort, and hopefully they can properly identify the remains and bring them back home for proper burial,” he added.
Kuentai-USA Chairman Usan Kurata was grateful for the local support that made the memorial service successful.
Japanese Consul to Saipan Toshio Matsumura expressed his profound gratitude to Kuentai for organizing a “meaningful memorial service.”
Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog, in his remarks, noted the history that Japan and the U.S. shared and went through. “That should not be forgotten, and it is very important today that Japan and the U.S. continue to come together in unity and peace.”
Hocog then thanked the Kuentai-USA group for helping families locate their loved ones who perished on the battlefield during World War II.
Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang offered remarks through his secretary, Yuki Yoshimoto, who translated into Japanese: “I believe that it is very important for future generations to learn about the events of the past in order to preserve peace and goodwill. Today’s ceremony continues the effort of picking up the pieces and building a bond that only promotes peace and goodwill.”
Also participating in the memorial service were Marianas Visitors Authority Managing Director Chris Concepcion, former Japan lawmaker Osama Konishi, various representatives of CNMI government agencies and off-island organizations that also participated in the recovery efforts.
Variety was told that the Kuentai-USA group has discontinued its fieldwork in the Achuago area due to funding and permitting issues.