S returns 22 artifacts looted after Battle of Okinawa to Japan, here’s how they were discovered

The United States has returned twenty-two historic artifacts to Japan that were looted following the Battle of Okinawa during World War II, the FBI said

Denny Tamaki, the Governor of Okinawa prefecture, announced the return of the artifacts to the people of Okinawa, Japan, according to the FBI. (AP)

The United States has returned twenty-two historic artifacts to Japan that were looted following the Battle of Okinawa during World War II, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). A family in Massachusetts uncovered the ancient artifacts among their late father’s personal belongings.

Agents from the FBI’s Boston office revealed on Friday that the looted artifacts had been returned after a prolonged probe that began with a call from a family who discovered the items in their deceased father’s belongings.

The father was a WWII veteran who had not participated in the Pacific theater, according to the FBI.

Addressing a press conference, Geoffrey Kelly, Art crime coordinator of the FBI’s Boston field office, said: “There were some scrolls, there were some pottery pieces, there was an ancient map. They looked old and valuable.”

Recognising the significance of the artifacts, the Massachusetts family conducted some investigation and discovered that at least the scrolls had been entered around 20 years ago in the FBI’s National Stolen Art File.

All you need to know about the artifacts

The 22 artifacts, including six painted scrolls from the 18th and 19th centuries, were reported missing for nearly 80 years. They hold significant importance to Okinawa’s history.

Other objects included a hand-drawn map of Okinawa from the nineteenth century, as well as numerous pots and ceramics.

A typewritten letter discovered among the relics contributed to establishing that the artifacts were stolen in the final days of World War II, according to the FBI.

The Battle of Okinawa, which was a major fight of the Pacific War, was fought between US and Japanese forces on the Ryukyu Islands’ main island during World War II. Officials said that many vital documents and jewels from the Ryukyu Kingdom were taken after the war.

22 artefacts find way back to home

The FBI transferred the discovered artifacts to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Asian Art in Washington, DC.

The FBI exhibited the scrolls at the museum, displaying “portraits of Okinawan royalty in vivid reds, golds, and blue accents”.

“When taken together, they really represent a substantial piece of Okinawan history,” Kelly said.

According to the FBI’s National Stolen Art File, several Okinawan antiquities, including portraits of Okinawan monarchs, remain missing.

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