Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono visited the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, August 23rd. DPAA’s Director Kelly McKeague welcomed Minister Kono and his delegation and DPAA’s Scientific Director, Dr. John Byrd, provided them a tour of the agency’s forensic laboratory.
“It was an honor to host Foreign Minister Kono,” said McKeague. “As Japan and the United States recover our World War II fallen who are missing throughout the Indo-Pacific region, our countries are working to increase cooperation and collaboration, emblematic of our nations’ shared values and strong alliance.”
Kono assumed the job of foreign minister in November and visited DPAA as a follow up to a visit made by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe in 2016. This visit comes as both the Japanese and U.S. governments seek to enhance Japan’s forensic capabilities to identify remains of their fallen service members.
DPAA and Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) are working to strengthen the partnership between the U.S. and Japan by fostering understanding and cooperation and establishing a system for scientific analysis for identifying remains.
The Japanese government already works closely with DPAA to conduct field forensic reviews in Solomon Islands, Palau, and Kiribati. Collaborative efforts have led to numerous cases where DPAA and MLHW have assisted in the recovery of each nation's war dead.
“There is no greater way for former enemies to show their friendship than to help each other in recovering their fallen soldiers,” said James D. Darby, DPAA’s Senior International Engagement Specialist for the Indo-Pacific region.
The laboratory tour highlighted the agency’s forensic and analysis processes. Dr. Byrd expressed his excitement about the expanding partnership between the two nations going forward.
“This visit is another indicator of the cooperation between the U.S. and Japan on this humanitarian mission,” said Byrd. “We look forward to working more closely with Japanese scientists in the future.”