A former Japanese soldier last seen by his family when he went off to fight in World War II said Tuesday he was eager to visit his parents' graves and see Japan's famous cherry blossoms.

Ishinosuke Uwano, who was declared among Japan's war dead in 2000, resurfaced in Ukraine and is expected to arrive in Japan today for a 10-day visit with relatives.

"I would like to visit my parents' graves and to see cherry blossoms," Uwano, 83, said at the main airport in the capital, Kiev, before traveling to Japan with one of his sons.

Speaking Ukrainian and wearing a traditional Ukrainian cap over his gray hair, Uwano told a handful of reporters he has no plans to live in Japan.

"Ukraine has become my homeland," he said.

Japan's Kyodo News agency said Uwano moved to Ukraine in 1965 and has three children. He lives in Zhitomyr, a city about 90 miles west of the capital, Kiev, the report said.