Senior police officials from Ukraine began a training program Monday in Tokyo on ways to identify war dead, hoping to learn from Japan's experience in carrying out mass autopsies after its 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster.

During the five-day program through Friday, the 10 Ukrainian police officials will be trained on mass autopsy procedures, collection of specimens, and DNA analysis, according to Japan's National Police Agency.

According to Ukraine, tens of thousands of bodies remain unidentified since Russia began its invasion in February 2022.

Photo taken on July 10, 2023, in Tokyo shows the opening ceremony of a training program for Ukrainian police officers to help them identify war dead using skills acquired by their Japanese counterparts in mass autopsies following the 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster. (Kyodo)

The Ukrainian police will also learn about Japan's approach to mental health care for family members who lost loved ones and officers involved in identifying bodies, the agency said.

"Our colleagues joining this program come from the provinces where there is a war going on. We have been invited by Japan and we expect to be shown (the Japanese side's) vast experience," said Oleksandr Shulha at the training program's opening ceremony in Tokyo, representing the Ukrainian delegation.

Hiroki Tsutsui, councilor for international affairs at the NPA, said, "We are happy to be able to deliver our knowledge. It is a common responsibility of both the Ukrainian and Japanese police to return the bodies of victims to their families as soon as possible."

Japanese police had completed by the end of February this year 15,830 autopsies on bodies from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, and identified 99.7 percent of the victims of the magnitude-9.0 quake and tsunami disaster that hit eastern Japan in 2011.

The Ukrainian officials will also attend a lecture in Tokyo and visit the National Research Institute of Police Science in Chiba Prefecture, near the Japanese capital.

They will travel to Fukushima Prefecture for two days from Thursday and visit the remains of the disaster-hit Ukedo Elementary School and exchange views with police officers who were involved in identifying bodies in the aftermath of the calamity.

The training program came after Kyiv contacted the Japanese Embassy in Ukraine via the U.N. Development Program in early May, asking for Japanese professionals to share their expertise in identifying large numbers of bodies.

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