Japan Information

World War II Artifacts

The Government of Japan recognizes that the original owners or their surviving relatives would greatly appreciate the return of items lost during World War II. To promote and facilitate the return of such items, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare will attempt to locate the item’s original owner or their relatives provided that the party requesting the investigation agrees give up the item without demand for compensation, if and when the search is successfully completed. Please be aware that the purchase or sale of WWII items, especially those with the names of war dead clearly visible, are deeply disrespectful to the bereaved. The Government of Japan requests your cooperation in treating such items with respect by refraining from these transactions, online or otherwise.

The procedure for the return of war items is described as follows. As stated in (3.) below, please do not send items to the Consulate before the investigation is complete:
 
1.            Email, mail, or fax the completed REQUEST FORM to Consulate General of Japan in Seattle along with photos or photocopies of the item. Any identifying markings should be enlarged and made clearly visible. Complete details, including how and where the item was recovered, are crucial to the success of the investigation and should be described in full on the REQUEST FORM. In the absence of inscriptions indicating the name or other details that could be used to identify the original owner, reaching a conclusive outcome will be highly unlikely. Please be advised that all photos and photocopies provided with the REQUEST FROM will not be returned.
 
Email:
consul@se.mofa.go.jp
 
Mailing Address:
Consulate General of Japan in Seattle
ATTENTION: WWII Items
Two Union Square BLDG
601 Union Street, Suite 500, Seattle, WA 98101
 
FAX:
(206)812-5972 or (206)624-9097
 
2.            All materials will be forwarded to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare for investigation. Investigations typically takes several months, but in some cases a year or more to complete.
 
3.            You will be notified as soon as the investigation is conclusive. You will then be asked to send or bring the item(s) to Consulate General of Japan in Seattle. The Consulate will only accept the actual items at this stage of the process, and only if the item has been traced back to its origin. Due to strict laws, military swords must be sent directly from the individual requesting the investigation to the  original owner or a surviving relative in Japan – the Consulate will not accept swords or any other weapons.
 
4.            The Consulate General of Japan in Seattle can only accept requests from individuals residing within its jurisdiction, which includes the State of Washington, Montana, and Northern Idaho (Idaho County & the 9 northernmost counties). Those residing in other areas should contact the regional Consulate office responsible for their area. (http://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/jicc/consulate-guide.html)
 
Should you have any further questions, please contact Consulate General of Japan in Seattle by phone or email.

Phone:
(206) 682-9107
Email:
consul@se.mofa.go.jp
 
Request for Investigation of Lost Articles: PDF

Related links:
Minister for Foreign Affairs to Honor OBON 2015
OBON SOCIETY Recognized for its Contributions to Japan-U.S. Relations by Japan's Minister for Foreign Affairs (PDF)