- History -
Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery was established by the Japanese government in 1959 to house the remains of the many unknown Japanese soldiers, military employees, and ordinary civilians who died overseas during World War II. Some of the remains enshrined here were recovered in a series of government recovery missions starting in 1953; others were brought home immediately after the war by returning military units and individuals. There were 2.4 million Japanese soldiers, military employees, and ordinary citizens who died overseas in the previous war. 1.28 million of them were brought back to Japan, but 1.12 million remains are still overseas.
The cemetery ranges over an area of approximately 16,500 m2. Evergreen trees interspersed with zelkovas and other deciduous trees create an atmosphere of solemnity and tranquility suitable for such hallowed ground. These trees,
which were mere saplings when the cemetery first opened, now tower into the sky and enhance
the dignity of the setting with their dense foliage.
As of May 2019, there are 370,069 remains enshrined at Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery.
Before Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery
During the war, about 2.1 million soldiers and 300,000 citizens lost their lives.
The total number of losses was 2.4 million. The Japanese government started to collect ashes and remains from
other countries in 1952. However, it has been very challenging to return these remains to bereaved families.
In December 1955, the Japanese government decided to build a tomb to house these remains.
By the time construction took place, there had been many twists and turns regarding the construction site.
Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery was built on the Imperial Land Management site.
Construction began in July 1956 and on March 28, 1958, the ceramic coffin for the remains was completed.
On that day, the Emperor and Her Majesty the Empress attended a grand worship ceremony held at the cemetery.
Ossuaries and Ceramic Coffin
The remains of the war dead are enshrined in underground ossuaries.
The oldest are located beneath the ceramic coffin at the centre of the Hexagonal Memorial Hall.
The newest were built-in in March 1991, 2000, and 2013 at the rear area of the Memorial Hall.
Weighing as much as five tons, the ceramic coffin is one of the largest ceramic objects in the world. It was made from Japanese soil and pebbles gathered from the major warzones overseas, fired at a temperature of 1,700 degrees.
It contains a gilt bronze vase in the shape of a tea jar - a gift from the Showa Emperor - in which are enshrined remains symbolising all who died in the war.