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Japan soldier reunited with family after 63 years

By Staff
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TOKYO, Apr 20 (Reuters) A Japanese World War Two soldier recently found alive in Ukraine wept as he was reunited today with his younger brother and sister for the first time in more than six decades.

Ishinosuke Uwano, 83, who returned to Japan yesterday, was officially registered as dead by Japan in 2000, as he had not been heard from since 1958 when he was last reported seen on Russia's Sakhalin Island.

Uwano travelled to his former home in Iwate, about 450 km north of Tokyo, for an emotional reunion with siblings he hadn't seen for 63 years.

Uwano and brother Ushitaro Sadate, 81, clung to each other for several minutes with their heads bowed, weeping.

''Welcome home,'' Sadate said.

During his 10-day visit to Iwate, Uwano said he intended to visit his parents' grave.

It was not immediately clear why and how Uwano, who served in the Japanese Imperial Army on Sakhalin until the war's end in 1945, ended up in Ukraine.

Japanese media said Uwano moved to Ukraine in 1965 and married a Ukrainian woman. Uwano, who has three children, lives in Zhitomyr west of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

Since finding Uwano in Ukraine in October, Japan's Health Ministry has been trying to restore his residency registration.

Uwano, who told reporters on arrival in Japan that he had forgotten almost all of his Japanese, currently has Ukrainian nationality.

REUTERS SHB BST1749

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