Average age of Japan’s Pacific War veterans tops 100

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry

The average age of former soldiers who served in the Pacific War and receive a military pension has surpassed 100, according to a survey by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.

Thursday marked the 81st anniversary of the beginning of the war. Veterans continue to pass away, but efforts are being made to preserve their memories.

The number of former servicemen receiving a military pension peaked at 1.39 million in fiscal 1973, according to the ministry’s surveys. It subsequently declined to 100,000 in 2012 and fell below 10,000 in 2019.

As of March 2021, there were 6,414 pension recipients with an average age of 99.4. In March this year, 4,054 people were receiving a pension and their average age was 100.1.

“We collect statements with a sense of anguish,” said Junko Nakata, secretary general of the Japan Veterans Video Archive Project (JVVAP), a citizens group in Tokyo’s Kita Ward.

Launched in 2004, JVVAP has recorded the accounts of about 1,800 former soldiers who were at Pearl Harbor, on the Malay Peninsula and elsewhere. Their statements are preserved on video and other media, about 300 of which are on the group’s website.

“Many of the former soldiers who spoke with us have passed away, but they continue to convey the tragedy of war through the videos,” said Nakata, 48.