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European edition, Friday, September 19, 2008

A Japanese group that opposes the U.S. military said Thursday it was responsible for last week’s explosions near Yokosuka Naval Base.

The minor explosions were the "first" of an effort to stop the U.S. Navy from deploying the USS George Washington, according to letters sent to Japanese newspapers signed by Kakumei gun, Japanese for "revolutionary army."

The incident coincided with the Navy’s announcement that the aircraft carrier would reach Yokosuka on Sept. 25, making it the first nuclear-propelled carrier forward-deployed to Japan.

The group had also claimed responsibility for other explosions that targeted the military, including a 2007 blast near Camp Zama signaling the group’s opposition to a plan to move the Army’s I Corps (Forward) headquarters to that location.

A spokesman said Thursday that Yokosuka police are investigating the group’s connection to a leftist extremist group called Kakurokyo, which has claimed responsibility for other base attacks.

Police didn’t find any projectiles in the Yokosuka incident, but they found two 3-foot-long metal tubes, wires and burned grass on a hill above Yokosuka’s Shioiri train station. The explosions went off around 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 and police responded after fielding calls from four residents, they said.

No objects landed anywhere on or within the Yokosuka base, said a statement by base commander Capt. Daniel Weed, but base authorities are "coordinating with the local Japanese authorities that are investigating the incident that occurred in Yokosuka City."

This recent situation will not interrupt the long-anticipated arrival of the George Washington, a Navy official said Thursday.

"The USS George Washington is still coming on the 25th of this month, as we announced," said Commander U.S. Naval Forces Japan spokesman Jon Nylander.

The carrier’s arrival has been hailed as a "historic event" due to the ship’s capabilities. It was delayed after a fire burned through 80 spaces while the carrier was at sea May 22.

author picture
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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