CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A live anti-tank explosive that was displayed in a home for 40 years and has sat in an Okinawa woman’s backyard for the past five months will be destroyed soon by a U.S. Marine Corps disposal team.
Although Japanese police, notified by a concerned neighbor, found the 1960s-era explosive in the backyard of the home of a 73-year-old woman in Uruma last November, all that the Japanese military squad that handles unexploded ordnance could do was cover it with sandbags.
“The mission of our bomb disposal team is limited to treating bombs used during World War II,” Hirofumi Shimoda, a spokesman for the Ground Self-Defense Forces 15th Brigade in Naha, told Stars and Stripes Friday. “We do not have either the technology or ability to treat the newer type bomb.”
Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima addressed the issue at a press conference Friday morning, saying the Okinawa Unexploded Bomb Disposal Council would ask the U.S. military Friday to dispose of the ordnance. No reason was given for why it took so long to make the formal request.
“The Marine Corps intends to coordinate with the Okinawa Defense Bureau, Okinawa Prefectural Police, and Uruma City Police to determine the safest possible options for rendering technical assistance,” 2nd Lt. Lucas Burke said in a news release Friday.
The device was reported to Okinawa police on Nov. 9. The Uruma woman told them her husband, now dead, brought the bomb home 40 years ago, and it was on display in their home. She recently moved it to her backyard, and a neighbor was concerned it might be hazardous, according to a police spokesman.