Climate Change Blamed for Loss of 70-Year-Old War Graves


U.S. Marines clear a Japanese-held bunker on the Marshal Islands in 1944.

U.S. Marines clear a Japanese-held bunker on the Marshal Islands in 1944. Image courtesy WikiCommons via the U.S. Army Signal Corps (Public Domain). Accompanying thumbnail courtesy Stefan Lins.

Rising sea levels associated with our changing climate have claimed some unlikely victims – Japan’s war dead.

According to a story in the Huffington Post, the graves of 26 Japanese soldiers killed in action on the Marshall Islands in World War Two have been swept into the Pacific in recent weeks by the higher than normal tides.

“There are coffins and dead people being washed away from graves. It’s that serious,” said Tony de Brum, the archipelago’s envoy to a UN sponsored summit on climate change taking place this weekend in Bonn, Germany.

The 24-island archipelago, which is home to 68,000 people, lies 3,600 km (2,200 miles) southwest of Hawaii — roughly halfway between Honolulu and New Guinea.

The Marshals were first occupied by the Japanese military during World War One and were used as a base by the Imperial Navy’s 6th Fleet during the Second World War. American forces captured much of the territory in 1944 following a bitterly fought campaign. Other outposts in the chain were simply bypassed by the U.S., the Japanese garrisons there left to starve.

Much of the Marshals lie barely six feet above sea level. The islands are reportedly being gradually swamped by changing wind and ocean currents. Experts believe most of the archipelago will be under water by the end of the century.

To read the full story, click here.

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