A Japanese Type 97 Shinhoto Chi-Ha tank war discovered during a search expedition of Russia's Defense Ministry and the Russian Geographical Society on the island of Shumshu of the Kuril Islands chain.
The Type 97 ShinhoTo Chi-Ha was a Japanese medium tank used in World War II that was an upgrade to the original Type 97 Chi-Ha. This design was probably the best tank Japan produced in any large quantity up to 1945.
ladimir Popov, chief of the Defense Ministry War Casualties Commemoration Department, said : "The team continues its search on the island to reinter Soviet servicemen killed in action". "It is also searching for fragments of WWII Soviet and Japanese tanks, planes and weapons used in the war, of historic value and fit for restoration." The tank has been prepared for shipping and loaded aboard a vessel.
Tents have been pitched near Kurbatov lighthouse for digs assembling around 70 people, more than 10 special vehicles, Mi-8 and Mi-26 helicopters and Pacific Fleet auxiliary vessels. Work on the island is due to last until September 24.
Russia's Defense Ministry sent its first team to Shumshu last September, when explorers found and reinterred the remains of Soviet troops. Those of Japanese soldiers were handed over to Japan.
Wartime military hardware found on the island at the time has been shipped to the Russian mainland and is being restored.
The expedition, which is organized with participation of a department for memorials to fatherland defenders, the Russian Search Movement, the Russian Geographical Society and the Culture Ministry, will search for remains of soldiers, care for burial places and gather WWII-time military equipment that will be restored and handed over to museums, the general said.
The main part of the 80,000-strong Japanese army in the Kuriles was based on Shumshu. An infantry division, a tank regiment, an air defense regiment and two airbases were located underground. The garrison had 60 tanks, 27 artillery and 310 machine gun emplacements and about 200 other gun points.
Expedition members, about 50 people, will set out for Shumshu on board a ship of the Pacific Fleet from Kamchatka, where they will arrive by plane from Moscow.
A tour for reporters will be also organized to make a documentary film about battles of the Soviet army in the Far East in 1945. The expedition will last from September 6 to September 25. There are no residential sites on the island at present. The settlement of Baikovo was deserted after it was hit by tsunami in 1952