Cremation delayed as Japan buries disaster dead

Japan has begun burying some of its tsunami and earthquake victims in temporary mass graves because it does not have enough fuel for traditional cremations.

With supplies of fuel dwindling, officials have abandoned cremation in favour of quick, simple burials in a show of pragmatism over tradition. Some are buried in bare plywood caskets and others in blue plastic bags, with no time to build proper coffins. The bodies will be dug up and cremated later, officials assured the families.

Japan’s government has estimated the damage from this month’s record earthquake and tsunami at as much as 25 trillion yen ($US309 billion), it said in a statement in Tokyo.

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UNIT 731 – Bones to tell the story of secret human experiments

The Imperial Japanese Army’s notorious medical research team carried out secret human experiments regarded as some of the worst war crimes in history.

Its scientists subjected more than 10,000 people per year to grotesque Josef Mengele-style torture in the name of science, including captured Russian soldiers and downed American aircrews.

The experiments included hanging people upside down until they choked, burying them alive, injecting air into their veins and placing them in high-pressure chambers.

Now new detail about their victims’ suffering could be revealed after the authorities in Tokyo announced plans to open an investigation into human bones thought to have come from the unit.

A new search is also due to be carried out for mass graves that may contain more victims of human experiments.

The bones are thought to be from up to 100 people and were discovered in a mass grave in 1989 during construction work.

Read more of the story: Human bones could reveal truth of Japan’s ‘Unit 731’ experiments