Anthropologists want UC Berkeley to return skulls of Japanese war dead

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The skulls and bones of Japanese war dead from World War II's Battle of Saipan are being kept at UC Berkeley in apparent violation of the Geneva Conventions for the protection of war victims, The Chronicle has learned.

The remains of several Japanese soldiers or civilians removed from the island of Saipan in 1945 by a Navy doctor are housed on storage shelves maintained by the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology on the UC Berkeley campus, museum officials have confirmed.

The admission has sparked the fury of international law experts and anthropologists, who say the university has a legal and ethical duty to return the remains to Japan.

Three sets of skeletal remains with skulls, and various bones of three additional Japanese war dead without skulls, are stored in wooden containers in vaults beneath the Hearst Gymnasium swimming pool.

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