Long-Lost Soldier, 83, Returns To Ukraine

MORIOKA, Japan -- A former Imperial Japanese Army soldier who had a dramatic family reunion in his hometown in Iwate Prefecture for the first time since he went off to Sakhalin Island during World War II left Thursday to return to his home in Ukraine.

Ishinosuke Uwano

Ishinosuke Uwano, 83, who was recently confirmed to be alive in Ukraine, arrived in the town of Hirono, Iwate Prefecture, earlier in April and met with his younger brother and two younger sisters. During his one-week stay, he also visited his parents' grave.

Just before he left, about 50 residents saw him off with one of them saying, "Please bring your family next time you come back."

Uwano visited the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry in the capital later Thursday to re-establish his family registry, which was changed after he was declared dead in 2000.

He described his years after he disappeared as "fate," and did not talk much about them even to his relatives, according to people who met him.

Uwano, accompanied by his son, arrived in Japan on April 19 and went to his hometown the following day. He stayed at the house of his nephew, Yukio, 59, where he was born.

He is scheduled to leave Japan on Friday, arriving in Ukraine later in the day.

Uwano was serving on Sakhalin at the end of the war but his whereabouts became unknown and he was later declared dead.

Uwano, who has been living in Ukraine since around 1965, married a local woman and has a son and two daughters. He currently lives in Zhytomyr, west of Kiev, according to the officials.

Source: The Japan Times

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