REMAINS OF SOVIET AND JAPANESE SOLDIERS FOUND IN SAKHALIN

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YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, June 5 (RIA Novosti) - The remains of Soviet and Japanese soldiers, who had died fighting on Sakhalin island in August 1945, were found near Pobedino village in central Sakhalin. Soviet forces and Japanese units fought each other rather fiercely there in the summer of 1945. (Russia ceded south Sakhalin to Japan after the 1904-1905 Russian-Japanese war).

Talking to RIA Novosti on June 5, people at the Pioneer military-history foundation noted that the foundation's amateur diggers had found rotten pieces of a standard Red Army coat, as well as an ammunition pouch for Japanese rifle cartridges. Experts should now find out the number of soldiers, who had been killed in the vicinity.

Sakhalin diggers had established their own organization in 1989, finding more than 100 dead Red Army soldiers since then and burying them with full military honors. Meanwhile the remains of Japanese soldiers are cremated in line with Buddhist rituals and subsequently taken home for burial.

All in all, more than 2,500 soldiers were killed on both sides, while fighting for a Japanese fortified area on Kharamitogskiye heights.

An oil-and-gas pipeline will snake from north Sakhalin to its south districts. Consequently, the search for dead soldiers' remains has intensified since early 2004.

Nazi Germany was defeated in May 1945, what with the Soviet Union subsequently declaring war on Japan and defeating the one-million-strong Kwantung army, which had been deployed along the Manchuria-USSR border since the early 1930s. Soviet forces eventually seized south Sakhalin and the entire Kurile archipelago, which had been placed under Japanese jurisdiction since 1875. In 1946 Sakhalin and the Kurile islands formed the insular Sakhalin region of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). Japan started demanding since the mid-1950s that the Soviet Union return the so-called northern territories, i.e. the four South Kurile islands, which had been part and parcel of Japan until 1945.

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