KORIYAMA, Fukushima — A flag that belonged to a Japanese soldier who was killed on the Solomon Islands during World War II has been returned to his family 80 years after his death.
Tamio Unayama died in November 1942 after being hit by shell fragments on Guadalcanal Island when he was 23 years old, according to the Unayama family and an association that represents the interests of relatives of deceased war veterans.
Unayama was born in 1919 and left Ujina Port in Hiroshima Prefecture to join the war effort in January 1942.
In January 1943, Charles Marcotte, a U.S. serviceman who had served on Guadalcanal, was given the flag by a local resident.
Marcotte took the flag back to the United States and his son, Robert, who inherited the item, ended up donating it to an Oregon-based nonprofit organization called Obon Society, which is involved in returning the belongings of dead Japanese soldiers.
The return of Unayama’s flag was realized through the efforts of the society, among other entities.
Yoko Unayama, the wife of Unayama’s nephew, received the flag at Koriyama City Hall in Fukushima Prefecture on July 22.
“I’ll let my late family members know that Tamio’s spirit has come back home together with the flag. I think everyone is going to be happy to hear the news,” said Yoko, 80.
“The return of the flag was made possible thanks to the goodwill of people in Japan and the United States,” Koriyama Mayor Masato Shinagawa said. “With the ravages of war continuing throughout the world, I hope that peace and order will be maintained as soon as possible.”