Remains of Japanese mountaineer found in Minya Konka

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China Daily, 2007-06-12 

CHENGDU -- The remains of a Japanese mountaineer, who lost his life 26 years ago while scaling Gongga Shan (Minya Konka) in 1981, was found and identified with his belongings at the Swallow Valley (Yanzi Gou) of the mountain in China's western province of Sichuan.

Gao Min, deputy secretary general of the Sichuan Mountaineering Association, confirmed to Xinhua Tuesday morning that "the remains were found on June 9, which belonged to the eight Japanese mountaineers who lost their lives 26 years ago."

And the association has already sent the information through e-mail to Abe Mikio, the official who is responsible for the finding efforts of the Japanese Mountaineering Association, said Gao.

In May 1981, a 12-member Japanese mountaineering team from Hokkaido made the first adventure to Gongga Shan, eight of them lost their lives in the snowslide when they made the height of 7,400 meters, an accident shocking to both Japan and the world as well.

Gongga Shan, or Minya Konka, is the "King of Sichuan Mountains" with the highest peak of 7,556 meters. Situated in the Daxue Shan mountain range on the eastern Tibetan plateau, it is a sacred mountain to the Tibetans, between Daduhe and Yalongjiang rivers.

In the past decades, the Japanese have never abandoned their searching for the remains, and also sought the help of the Sichuan mountaineering association in their unremitting efforts.

Since 1994, both Japan and the Sichuan association have been conducting intensive searches every two years around the glaciers at 4,000 to 4,200 meters above sea level, with the latest in 2002, headed by Abe.

All their efforts turned out only bits of remains and belongings, which were too small to be identified, said Gao.

On June 4, a message from Ganzi region in Sichuan province said that villagers who collected the medicine herbs at the Swallow Valley had their first glimpse of the belongings and then the remains.

In high recognition, the Chinese Mountaineering Association promptly dispatched Gao Min to make an inspection together with a searching team. On June 9, Gao and his team identified the remains at the height of 4,040 meters.

"From the belongings, which include gloves and straps with marks, we can surely make the identification that the remains belong to the Japanese who lost their lives in 1981," said Gao.

The finding of the remains 26 years later after the accident was mainly due to the warming of the climate, the thawing of glaciers and the intelligence of the villagers who often report to the local authorities whenever they find anything abnormal, Gao explained.

In accordance with the mountaineering customs of the world, the Chinese searching team has buried the belongings and the remains on the spot after taking pictures and making geographic marks, Gao said.

"After more than 20 years of searching, the finding today can eventually console the families of the victims," said Gao.

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