Rites set for fallen Siberia prisoners

Toyko, Japan - A Japanese Buddhist sect plans to hold rites in Siberia to comfort the souls of Japanese soldiers and civilians who perished in labor camps in the years immediately after the war, officials of the Agon Shu sect said.

The plan follows a Fire Festivals ritual that Agon Shu staged last month at the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz in Poland, its most recent overseas undertaking.

The venue for the rite is expected to be Khabarovsk in the Russian Far East, but the date hasn't been set yet, they said.

Of some 600,000 Japanese prisoners, more than 100,000 are believed to have died in Siberian labor camps. The survivors were repatriated to Japan.

In mid-June, Seiyu Kiriyama, founder and president of the sect, and its 200 members flew to Poland and performed the ritual just outside the Auschwitz camp on June 13 to comfort the souls of victims of the Holocaust.

Janusz Marszalek, mayor of the city of Oswiecim (Auschwitz in Polish), and other local dignitaries attended.