SOLOMON Islanders are encouraged to assist retrieve and repatriate remains of Japanese soldiers killed here during the Second World War.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a Pacific-wide appeal for islands to assist his country achieve that during the seventh Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM7) that ended at the Japanese city of Iwaki, Saturday.
“Your countries have always warmly welcomed Japanese visiting to collect the remains of fallen soldiers,” Mr Abe told Pacific leaders.
“A great number of souls waiting to return to their homeland still linger there on islands in the Pacific,” he added.
“Please continue to lend your support to us in the future during our trips to search for soldiers’ remains.
“I believe that our pledge to proactively work to bring peace to the world, based in international cooperation and created atop the path we have walked these 70 years, will continue to be received with the same warm geniality you have extended to us until now,” the Japanese prime minister said.
Japan believed remains of thousands of its fallen soldiers were lying in soils across the Pacific.
Over the past years, it had undertaken a major exercise to return the bodies home.
Solomon Islands is the turning point of the Second World War and battles that took place here between Japan and the Allied Force resulted in huge casualties on both sides.
Over the years, remains of Japanese soldiers found on Guadalcanal, Western Province, and parts of Central Province were retrieved and returned to Japan for proper burials.
An official of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said thousands more are still lying here and in other countries of the Pacific such as Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, and Palau.
“The government and people of Japan wanted remains of every single soldier killed in the Pacific and elsewhere to be returned home,” the official told the Pacific media during a briefing on the issue.
“The exercise to do that won’t stop until we achieve that objective,” he added.
Pacific leaders responded to the request by expressing their willingness to provide all possible support to assist Japan in their recovery efforts.
They also welcomed an initiative from the Japanese government to undertake the safe removal and clearance of World War II unexploded ordnance (UXO).
Thousands of UXO are lying under the waters and on soils in Solomon Islands.
Japan said the presence of UXO poses a threat to human security and constitute an obstacle to the sustainable development of the Pacific island countries.
Deputy Prime Minister Douglas Ete represented the country at PALM7.