A team of Japanese searchers has discovered 51 remains in two areas listed by the U.S. military after the war as enemy cemeteries, one of which could contain as many as 2,000 bodies, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said Friday.
The team was to report its findings later Friday to the prime minister’s office.
Officials at Japan’s health ministry, which supervises search efforts on the remote island, confirmed that 51 bodies had been recovered and two sites believed to be burial grounds had been found. But they could not immediately confirm the potential size of the mass graves or other details of the Kyodo report.
The discovery of the remains would be one of the biggest breakthroughs in decades toward finding the bodies of roughly 12,000 Japanese who remain missing and presumed dead after the 1945 battle on the island, which has been renamed Iwoto by the Japanese government.