Return of World War II Artifacts
The Government of Japan recognizes that the original owners (or their family) would greatly appreciate the return of articles lost during World War II. That is why we are promoting the return of those artifacts. To facilitate the return of these artifacts the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of the Government of Japan will attempt to locate the original bearer of a WWII artifact or surviving kin of the original bearer provided the party requesting the investigation agrees to tender the item to the Embassy of Japan without demand for compensation, if and when the search is successfully completed. Please be aware that the online auction or sale of WWII artifacts (especially on articles on which the names of the war dead are clearly visible) would deeply offend the feelings of the war bereaved. The Government of Japan would greatly appreciate your cooperation in refraining from the sale or purchase of such articles.
The procedure for the return of such artifacts is as follows. As stated in number 3 below, please do not send the articles to the Embassy before the investigation is completed.
- Email, mail, or fax the completed REQUEST FORM to the Embassy of Japan in DC along with photos or photocopies of the artifact. Any identifying markings should be enlarged and clearly legible. Complete details, including how and where the item was recovered, are crucial to the success of the investigation and should therefore be described in full on the REQUEST FORM. In the absence of inscriptions indicating the name and address of the original bearer of the artifact or aforementioned details, reaching a conclusive outcome will be highly unlikely. Please be advised that all photos and photocopies of the artifact(s) cannot be returned.
ATTENTION: Economic Section/WWII Artifacts
Embassy of Japan
2520 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008
- The materials will be forwarded to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare for investigation. Investigations typically take several months, but in some cases may take a year or more to complete.
- You will be notified as soon as the investigation is conclusive. You will then be asked to send or bring the artifact(s) to the Embassy of Japan. The Embassy of Japan will only receive the actual items at this stage of the process and only if the item has been traced back to its origin. Due to rigid legal codes, military swords must be sent directly from the individual requesting the investigation to the original bearer of the artifact or their surviving kin.
- The Embassy of Japan can only accept requests from individuals residing within its jurisdiction, which includes DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Those residing in other areas are asked to contact their regional Consulate office: http://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/jicc/consulate-guide.html)
Should you have any further questions, please contact the Embassy of Japan by phone or email.
Phone: (202) 238-6700
Request for Investigation of Lost Articles Form: WORD | PDF