FACTSHEET | April 12, 2021

Personnel Accounting Cooperation with Japan

Department of Defense Personal Accounting Cooperation Goals for 2021

  • Exchange information, maintain dialogue, and develop synchronization with the Embassy of Japan in Washington, Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW) officials, and select Japanese non-governmental organizations regarding U.S. and Japanese World War II personnel accounting efforts.
  • Increase collaboration with MHLW through bilateral and multilateral joint forensic reviews on Indo-Pacific battlefields where both the U.S. and Japan have collocated missing service personnel from World War II. Collaborate in the application of laboratory analysis to include sharing of genetic information that will facilitate determination of country of origin and identification of recovered human remains.
  • Exchange information and maintain close coordination with the U.S. Embassy Country Team and U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) on all personnel accounting plans and activities involving Japan.
  • Engage MHLW officials about select U.S. World War II MIA cases as required.
  • As required, request permission to investigate, locate, and recover remains of missing American servicemen that are located in Japan or on Japanese territory.  Continue to cooperate with Japan’s World War II (WWII) remains recovery efforts in the Indo-Pacific Region.

Background

  • Following the end of WWII, the U.S. Army Graves Registrations Service conducted an extensive search for nearly 54,000 personnel missing in the Pacific and the Chinese-Burma-India Theaters of Operation.  As required, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) searches for and recovers WWII losses on Japanese territory.
  • The Government of Japan (GOJ), through the MHLW, and select non-governmental organizations (NGOs) conducts search and recovery operations throughout the Indo-Pacific region.  The MHLW coordinates all remains recovery activities on Iwo Jima with Japan’s Ministry of Defense. MHLW has assessed that Japan has more than 600,000 recoverable war dead on WWII battlefields throughout the Indo-Pacific region; many U.S. unaccounted-for are likely collocated or commingled with the Japanese missing personnel on the same battlefields.
  • In the past, the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) and Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) hosted many official Japanese delegation visits to the U.S.  In addition, JPAC has trained Ministry of Defense and police personnel in JPAC methodology.  The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) will continue to engage Japan’s MHLW as DPMO and JPAC did in the past.

Activities

  • 2020: In January, DPAA hosted a visit at DPAA facilities in Hawaii for Japanese Minister Kato of the MHLW.  Minister Kato was provided with a tour of DPAA laboratory facilities and a discussion on DPAA processes and procedures in an attempt to better synchronize our respective accounting efforts. Following the visit, the GOJ implemented a policy change to stop cremations of remains pending DNA testing on recovered remains and the establishment of a Center for the Analysis of Remains of Ward Dead.
  • 2019: In April, DPAA signed a Memorandum of Arrangement with the MHLW to expand scientific collaboration in recovery and identifying unaccounted for remains from World War II.
  • 2019: In February, DPAA met with official from the MHLW in Hawaii to discuss increased coordination and cooperation through exchange of information and forensic processes.
  • 2018: In October, DPAA hosted a tour of DPAA facilities in Hawaii and technical discussion for the Japan National Policy Agency.   
  • 2018: In August, the Director, DPAA hosted a tour of the DPAA facilities in Hawaii for Japanese Foreign Minister Kono for an orientation briefing of the identification processes of unknown U.S. service members.
  • 2018: In July, Director, DPAA met with senior officials from the MHLW and MOD to discuss increased coordination and collaboration thru future scientific and technical exchanges and forums.      
  • 2018:  In March, the Deputy Director, DPAA met with senior U.S. and Japanese officials during his first visit to Tokyo. During the visit Japanese officials of MHLW, MOD, and Cabinet Office agreed to continue expanding cooperation between DPAA and GOJ organizations involved in personnel accounting activities. Also, a team of four officials from DPAA, MHLW, and MOD conducted a follow-up investigation of a Japanese temple grave site in Saiki City, Japan reported to contain the possible remains of a World War II aircrew member.
  • 2017:  In December, officials from MHLW visited DPAA in Hawaii to receive suspected Japanese WWII remains of 13 individuals that had been recovered during DPAA operations in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Tarawa.
  • 2017:  In September, DPAA conducted research and investigation of WWII incident cases associated with aircraft losses in Japan.
  • 2017:  In July, officials from Japan’s National Defense Medical College visited DPAA in Hawaii to continue the ongoing discussion regarding cooperation in the area of forensic science.
  • 2017:  In May, DPAA sent a team to meet with senior officials of the Government of Japan’s Cabinet, Diet, Ministry of Defense, and Ministry of Health, Labor, Welfare in order to discuss Japan’s establishment of a scientific system similar to DPAA’s accounting process.
  • 2016:  In December, DPAA provided a tour of the Hawaii facility to Prime Minister Abe, Minister of Foreign Affairs Kishida, and the Minister of Defense Inada.  Prime Minister Abe was provided an overview of laboratory operations and discussed continued cooperation between Japan and the United States.
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