July 1, 2006

Japanese man returns to homeland after 67 years

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese man left behind on the Russian
island of Sakhalin at the end of World War Two smiled and held
hands with family members as he returned to Japan for the first
time in nearly seven decades.

Yoshiteru Nakagawa, 79, who moved to Sakhalin with his
family before the war began, was separated from them in 1945
when his mother and younger sister evacuated to Japan's
northernmost island of Hokkaido and was subsequently not heard
from for years.

Riding in a wheelchair, Nakagawa greeted relatives with
waves as he arrived at a Hokkaido airport from Sakhalin, then
held hands with his younger sisters as they wept.

"I never even dreamed that I'd be able to return to Japan,"
an emotional Nakagawa later told a news conference.

Details of Nakagawa's life after the war were not
immediately clear, although one of his sisters was quoted by
Kyodo news agency as saying that Russian forces had mistaken
him for a Japanese soldier after the war and taken him to the

Nakagawa will spend two weeks in Hokkaido, media reports