All Camp Zama facilities open as late-night explosions are probed
While no one has claimed responsibility or revealed any possible motive, Japanese police continued to investigate explosions reported late Monday night outside Camp Zama.
Camp Zama officials searched the installation Tuesday but found no foreign objects on the base, according to a U.S. Army Japan news release. There were no reports of injuries or damage.
“Area security has been tightened by local and military police but the post is operating as normal and all facilities are open,” Maj. Martha Brooks, a U.S. Army Japan spokeswoman, said Tuesday.
“While we have no information as to who might be responsible, we take all legitimate threats to the safety and security of our installation and our personnel very seriously,” she said. “With the information we have at present, this seems to be a very minor incident that could have been executed by any number of dissident organizations within Japan.”
James D. Brophy II, the antiterrorism officer for U.S. Forces Japan at nearby Yokota Air Base, declined to comment on media reports that speculated this may have been the work of al-Qaida.
According to news report Tuesday on the Internet from ABC News, intelligence in Japan and Pakistan suggest al-Qaida has established a small but powerful presence in Japan.
On Tuesday afternoon, Camp Zama issued an advisory in the wake of the incident, reminding U.S. personnel to remain vigilant. It stated the installation’s force-protection condition level remained at “Alpha.”
Threat conditions at other U.S. bases on the Kanto Plain — including Yokota, Naval Air Facility Atsugi and Yokosuka Naval Base — also appeared unchanged. But military officials have a long-standing policy of not giving out specific information about security measures.
According to the news release, Camp Zama military police received word from Zama City police at 11:35 p.m. Monday that a possible explosion had been reported at or near Yatoyama Park — less than a mile southeast of the base — about 30 minutes earlier.
Japanese police found two metal pipes supported by tripods at the park but were unable to find any projectiles that might have been launched from them, a spokesman said.
The size and arrangement of the pipes are similar to contraptions discovered at the same park in November 2002, when two projectiles were found, including one on the roof of a home outside the base.
Mortar devices also were found near Yokota in March 2003 but no damage was reported. The following month, the Mainichi Shimbun reported it received a statement from a group claiming responsibility for an April 3 attack on Naval Air Facility Atsugi.
Police raided locations linked to a political leftist group called “Kakurokyo” in 2004 that reportedly said it was responsible for each of the base attacks but no arrests have been made.
Experts have said radical organizations use such tactics not to mount a serious terrorist attack but to send a political message; they’ve said the incidents rarely result in injuries or significant damage.
Stars and Stripes reporter Allison Batdorff contributed to this report.