A group that specializes in the repatriation of Japanese remains from World War II recently visited the Saipan Mayor’s Office to invite Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang to what it said will be the first cremation ceremony for Japanese remains on the island.
Thousands of Japanese remains in the Northern Marianas were never given a proper burial in their homeland. The Japanese Association for Recovery and Repatriation of War Casualties have been working tirelessly since June 2017 to acquire the licenses needed to reclaim a number of these Japanese remains.
The association visited Apatang last Friday to invite him to the cremation ceremony today, Feb. 6, at 3:30pm, that will be held at Banadera in Marpi.
According to Apatang, the group will also be visiting the islands of Tinian and Rota where they will also dig up Japanese remains that will be cremated and their ashes brought back to Japan.
Apatang said this is the first time, to his knowledge, that a Japanese cremation ceremony would be held on Saipan.
“I think it is very important to them [the association] because a lot of them want to bring their family back home so they can be laid in their final resting place. To the Japanese people, that means a lot,” he said.
According to Apatang, like the island’s residents, the Japanese should be given the opportunity to dig up their ancestors, cremate their remains, and bring them home.
About 15 visited the Saipan Mayor’s Office last Friday. One of them, 80-year-old Histao Hito, told Apatang that he was in the Marianas during the war and about six of his relatives were buried on the island of Tinian.
Hito plans to have his relatives’ remains cremated and, after over 70 years, bring them home.
The ceremony will be open to the public and for anyone who wishes to pay their respects. Interested individuals can call the Saipan Mayor’s Office at 234-6208 for inquiries.