Roster of Deceased
Siberian POW Internees:
Tsuneo Murayama, 81
year-old former Siberian Internee, has realized his long-pending dream of
privately publishing Engraving Those Who Passed Away in Siberia: the
Roster of the Deceased during the Internment by the USSR, edited and written
by Tsuneo Murayama. The book contains around 46,300 names of the victims. It is
about 1,000 pages and covered in cloth.
Murayama received on March
6, 2007, the Yoshikawa Eiji Cultural Award for 2006. This award is given to
individuals or groups, for accomplishing an admirable achievement that has
contributed to Japanese culture but haven’t been appreciated enough.
Since the 1990’s, the
former USSR began releasing the roster of the deceased. The Russian soldiers
heard the Japanese names, and recorded them in Russian alphabets, which the
Japanese Ministry of Welfare and Labor converted into Japanese pronunciation.
The procedure resulted in quite an awful confusion; for example, “ Otozo Hirai”
was presented as “Ataji Kirai.” Murayama set to compile the roster of the
deceased in their original Japanese letters by copying the names on the epitaphs
through his many visits of the graves in Siberia. He was also offered the
rosters secretly brought back by the survivors. After he retired, he began
putting the data into a computer, which he purchased at the age of seventy. In
August 2005, with the assistance of his former students, he launched a website
on which the data became publicly available on the internet. Through the
website, he offered the names, dates of death, and locations of burial and
approximately 46,000 victims. They are arranged according to the order of
Japanese alphabets, around 70% of which he was able to introduce in the original
Japanese letters of each individual. For Example, “Hotano Tepeneda” in Russian
alphabet turned to be “Hamano Terutaro” in his original character, and “Ko/Kauniya
Shrao” was found as “Koda Misao”. The release led to the adding of 1,000 more
names to the roster. Murayama is still replying the inquiries by the bereaved
families, and in the newspaper article he is quoted as saying, “Because the task
is still on the way, I felt guilty of receiving the Award, but then I thought
this event would help in memorializing and recovering the honor of the
Individual data such as dates of birth and death, especially the location where the victims met their last moment, or the last group they belonged to, or burial sites were shown in most possible details. Along with the map of the whole area of the internment, the whole structure and arrangement of the camps were put into statistics represented in latitude and longitude. A set of codes were applied to each of the more than 860 sites of burial. Devices and ideas are contrived to make it easy to reach an individual with all his data. Through releasing the roster of deceased to the public, Murayama wishes that from now on more and more people will join their efforts in order to improve the roster to be more precise, making the best use of the internet; http://yokuryu.huu.cc/ Part I of the book is the Roster, and Part II Commentary consists of several articles by the author, such as why and how this book was compiled, history and issues of the Siberian/Mongolian Internment.
Following the release in 1990, more individual information in details were offered by the former USSR, but the Japanese Government has never made them open to public on the basis of protection of privacy rights, nor has they made effort to sort out the confused roster. Only limited reference is permitted on the request by former internees or bereaved families, with documents like certificate of resident registration or full copy of their family register. Then they are allowed reference or photocopy of the concerned data. Regarding the Roster of the "Deported to Korea (current North Korea)”, which was offered by the Russian Government in April 2006, the Japanese Ministry of Welfare and Labor, on March 29, 2007, announced they have finished translation and necessary arrangement and will respond to public inquiries in the same conditions with the roster for deceased. However, they have refused to release them on the internet or other means. On that day, All Japanese Association of the Former Internees in Siberia, under Director Yoshio Terauchi, issued a statement of protest, criticizing the Japanese government for refusing to release the roster saying that such a refusal equals an attempt to hide the truth about the Siberian/Mongolian POW Internment.
On August 22, at 18:30, a
Commemoration Party of the two historical books, the above mentioned Roster
by Murayama and Siberian Internment 1450 Days, the drawings and
essays by Shizuo Yamashita will be held at Kudan Geihinkan Hall.