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The Federal Bureau of Investigation & the Embassy of the United States in Tokyo helps return twenty-two historic artifacts to the people of Okinawa


The valuable Asian art was discovered by a Massachusetts family while they were going through their late father's belongings.


During a formal repatriation ceremony held at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum in Naha, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Embassy of the United States in Tokyo have returned 22 historic artifacts that were stolen after the Battle of Okinawa and had been missing for nearly 80 years.

Representatives of the Okinawa Prefectural Government and
Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the U.S. Mission to Japan
marked the artifacts’ return with a small ceremony at the
Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum in Naha on April 30

The artifacts, dating as far back as the 18th and 19th centuries, hold great significance in Okinawan history. They include six portraits (three of which were originally one piece but had been separated into three parts), a hand-drawn map of Okinawa from the 19th century, as well as various pottery and ceramics.





“We are immensely proud to have been able to recover and return these national treasures to the people of Okinawa, where they will remain an important part of their history and heritage for generations to come,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “The FBI would like to thank the Massachusetts family who reached out to us and relinquished these artifacts, the Smithsonian Institute for ensuring they were properly packaged for transport, and our military partners for their help in securing and transporting them back home, making repatriation a reality.



The valuable Asian art was discovered by a Massachusetts family while they were going through their late father's belongings. The family, who prefers to remain anonymous, contacted the FBI Boston, who then recovered the artifacts. The father, a World War II veteran, did not serve in the Pacific Theater.


To determine the origin of the artifacts, the family consulted the FBI's National Stolen Art File and found that four of the items were listed as missing 18th century portraits. Alongside the artifacts, there was an unsigned, typewritten letter claiming that the items were collected in Okinawa during the final days of World War II. The FBI conducted a thorough investigation and successfully verified the authenticity of the artworks.


"It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to have been a part of this investigation which resulted in the repatriation of these important cultural artifacts. A nation's identity is intrinsically tied to their cultural patrimony, and I am very proud to have assisted in their return to the people of Okinawa,”says FBI Boston Special Agent Geoffrey Kelly, a founding member of the FBI’s art crime team who is retiring after more than 28 years with the Bureau


During the ceremony, Minister Counselor for Public Affairs Philip Roskamp added, “We would like to thank Okinawa Prefecture and Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for making this historic return possible, as well as the FBI for their investigation, the Smithsonian for their support, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service for storing the artifacts, and the U.S. military who, in good faith, transported and escorted the items from the United States back to Okinawa. We at the U.S. Department of State are honored to have played a small role in the return of these irreplaceable cultural assets.”












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