Mount Fuji is seen from a beach in Chigasaki, Japan, Jan. 19, 2021.

Mount Fuji is seen from a beach in Chigasaki, Japan, Jan. 19, 2021. (Akifumi Ishikawa/Stars and Stripes)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Beachgoers southwest of Tokyo recently found boxes of empty bullet cartridges at popular beaches near the headquarters of the U.S. 7th Fleet.

The empty cartridges never posed a danger to the public, a spokesman for Yokosuka Naval Base told Stars and Stripes by email Thursday.

One box may have held a live round, according to Kanagawa Prefectural Police.

Beachgoers on Aug. 20 and Aug. 21 found at least four khaki-colored metal boxes containing between 300 and 500 cartridges and turned them over to Kanagawa police, according to a statement from the drugs and firearms division.

The boxes were found at Sagami Bay beaches in Hayama, Enoshima and Chigasaki, between 7 and 20 miles from Yokosuka.

One box was handed over to the naval base, according to a police spokesman who read the statement. Some government officials are required to speak to the media only on condition of anonymity.

Based on the ammunition type, police determined the casings likely originated with U.S. forces, base spokesman Randall Baucom told Stars and Stripes by email Thursday.

Police in Hayama turned the one box over to base security around 5 p.m. Sunday.

“All of the rounds in the canister had been fired and at no time posed a threat to the community,” Baucom wrote. “It is unclear at this time as to whom the canister belongs to, and it will be properly disposed of by [base security].”

A woman found the first box sitting atop a rock along the shore in Hayama around 12:30 p.m. Aug. 20; that afternoon, two men separately found one box each, according to police, who collected all the boxes.

The fourth box, which included what appeared to be a live round, was discovered at Enoshima around 10 a.m. Aug. 21, according to the police.

The box found in Hayama — closest to Yokosuka — was turned over to the base on Sunday; officers who collected the remaining boxes kept them at their stations.

Police said the boxes had English lettering but declined to specify what was written on them.

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Alex Wilson covers the U.S. Navy and other services from Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Originally from Knoxville, Tenn., he holds a journalism degree from the University of North Florida. He previously covered crime and the military in Key West, Fla., and business in Jacksonville, Fla.
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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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