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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Japanese Man Returns Home After 67 Years

kyodo newsYoshiteru Nakagawa, 79, in wheelchair, being greeted by his sister in Japan.
TOKYO -- A Japanese man not heard from since he disappeared in Russia at the close of World War II has been reunited with his family after 67 years and said Monday he wants to return permanently to Japan.

Yoshiteru Nakagawa, who emigrated with his parents to Sakhalin Island in 1939, flew back to Japan for the first time on Sunday. The 79-year-old, who still lives on Sakhalin, visited his younger sister, Toyoko Chiba, 75, in Bibai, on Monday, public broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News agency said.

Apologizing for his long absence, a tearful Nakagawa begged forgiveness as he knelt before a family shrine at his sister's home, NHK showed.

"I do want to return home for good and live beside my sisters as a brother," NHK quoted Nakagawa as saying.

Nakagawa broke his self-imposed solitude five years ago when he came forward and notified the Japanese Embassy in Moscow of his intention to return home for a visit, Japanese media have said.

Born in northern Yamagata prefecture, or state, in 1926, Nakagawa and his parents moved to Japanese-occupied Sakhalin in 1939, Japanese media reported.

While his mother and a sister returned to Japan, Nakagawa disappeared in eastern Sakhalin at the end of the war. His father's fate is unknown.

Nakagawa's life in Russia and a possible family are still unclear.

About 400,000 Japanese lived in Sakhalin until the Soviet takeover in the closing days of the war in 1945.

The majority of Japanese settlers returned to Japan, but many others were detained in prisons in Siberia.

Nakagawa has said he plans to meet with other relatives and visit his parents' grave during his two-week visit.

On Sunday, Nakagawa met with his sister, 60-year-old Tomiko Orui.