Name: Yoshihiko Waku
Rank/Branch: Civilian
Unit: Japanese News Correspondent
Date of Birth:
Home City of Record: Japan
Date of Loss: 31 May 1970
Country of Loss: Cambodia
Loss Coordinates: 110519N 1044119E (VT660257)
Status (in 1973): Prisoner of War
Category: 1
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Auto
Other Personnel In Incident: Welles Hangen (American); Roger Colne (French);
Tomohara Ishii Kojiro Sakai (both Japanese correspondents); 2 other foreign
correspondents (remains recovered)

Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project (919/527-8079) 01 April 1991 from one
or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. 2020


SYNOPSIS: Welles Hangen, an NBC News correspondent, Roger Colne, a sound
technician for NBC, Kojiro Sakai, a sound technician for CBS, Yoshihiko Waku, a
cameraman for NBC, and Tomohara Ishii, a cameraman for CBS, and three other
foreign correspondents comprised a group of NBC, CBS and foreign newsmen when
the group was ambushed about 32 miles south of Phnom Penh near Angtassom, in
Kampot Province, Cambodia, on May 31, 1970. The newsmen were heading for the
front lines of fighting in Cambodia, looking for a story as military action in
Cambodia had stepped up considerably at this time.

One of the automobiles was hit by a B-40 rocket, killing all three occupants.
This group was reported to contain a CBS crew, including one individual named

The group's Cambodian driver, who escaped capture, said that Hangen and two
foreign journalists riding in the same car were taken alive to a house about
three miles from the site of the attack. Other reports describe the three and
"Hangen and his crew," which presumably include Hangen, Colne, and Waku, all NBC

CIA located a Cambodian peasant in early 1971 who had been held overnight with
and could identify photos of Colne, Hangen, Sakai, Ishii and Waku. The peasant
stated that they had been held 3 miles from capture then moved the next morning
to a pagoda called Wat Po. The Cambodian knew personal details about each of the
five journalists.

Information obtained by a Khmer Rouge rallier, and substantiated by reports from
villagers, indicated that Hangen and three others were held in the house for
three days before being taken out and executed. The bodies of two newsmen were
recovered from a gravesite near the ambush location, but Hangen, Colne, Ishii,
Sakai and Waku are still missing and were listed as Prisoners of War.

Author Zalin Grant interviewed returned ARVN POWs in early 1973 and released the
following data supporting other stories indicating journalists could still be
alive. "Returned ARVN POWs sighted the (unnamed) journalists on Route #7, 17
miles south of Snoul in Eastern Cambodia 7-72 in ox-carts pulled by Hondas;
another said a VC captain near Minot, eastern Cambodia (where military American
POWs were released from in 1973) reported the (unnamed) journalists held in 7-72
had cameras; Cambodian national saw (unnamed) journalists in 6-72 at Prince
Sihanouk's FUNK camp south of Route #13 in Kratie Province; returned ARVN POWs
said a guard told them in 3073 that the journalists were still alive and held in
their area." Walter Cronkite reported a sighting of (unnamed) journalists in
January, 1974.

Whether Grant's and Cronkite's information relates to the journalists missing
from May 31, 1970, is not known. The five are among 22 international journalists
still missing in Southeast Asia, most known to have been captured. For several
years during the war, the correspondents community rallied and publicized the
fates of fellow journalists. After a while, they tired of the effort, and today
these men are forgotten by all but families and friends.

Tragically, nearly the whole world turns its head while thousands of reports
continue to flow in that prisoners are still held in Southeast Asia. Cambodia
offered to return a substantial number of remains of men it says are Americans
missing in Cambodia (in fact the number offered exceeded the number of those
officially missing). But the U.S. has no formal diplomatic relations with the
communist government of Cambodia, and refused to directly respond to this offer.
Although several U.S. Congressmen offered to travel to Cambodia to receive the
remains, they have not been permitted to do so by the U.S.

By 1991, well over 10,000 reports regarding missing Americans have been received
which convince many experts that hundreds of Americans are still alive in
Southeast Asia. Whether the newsmen ambushed in Cambodia on May 31, 1970 are
among them is unknown. Whatever their identities or nationality, they deserve
the basic human right of freedom.





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On October 21, 1992, the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting (JTF-FA, now DPAA) identified the remains of Yoshihiko Waku, missing from the Vietnam War.

Mister Waku was a Japanese member of a crew of NBC and CBS journalists working in Cambodia during the Vietnam War. On May 31, 1970, he and several of his compatriots were captured by a Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge force. Shortly after his capture, Mr. Waku was taken south to a nearby village in Takeo Province, Cambodia, where he was killed and buried. In 1992, a joint U.S. and Cambodian investigative team conducted an excavation at Mr. Waku's reported burial site, recovering remains. Later that year, some of the recovered remains were identified as those of Mr. Waku. 

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