Japan's welfare ministry has launched a new investigation into Japanese nationals believed to have died in internment in Siberia after World War Two following the discovery of new records.
The ministry says around 53,000 Japanese are believed to have died due to hard labor in the bitter cold while they were interned by the former Soviet Union. Of them, about 15,000 are not confirmed in Russian documentation.
Russian officials recently found that about 400 documents stored as national archives in Moscow may include lists or other records related to the detention. The investigation began on Wednesday after Japanese officials received the information.
Welfare ministry officials say they will look into the documents to find if the names of Japanese people are on the lists.
Ken Isobe, who is in charge of the investigation, said it has been 74 years after the war, and relatives of those interned are aging. He said the ministry wants to discover the fate of their loved ones as soon as possible with the help of Russian officials.
Recently, it was revealed that welfare ministry officials were aware for 14 years that some of the remains collected from Russia may not be of the interned Japanese but left the matter unresolved.