Marines train Japanese to disarm bomb in woman’s back yard
By DAVID ALLEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 17, 2010
URUMA, Okinawa — Newly trained by Marine Corps explosive ordnance disposal specialists, a Japan Ground Self-Defense Force ordinance team soon will disarm a 1960s-era anti-tank rocket in a 73-year-old Okinawa woman’s backyard.
The anti-tank explosive has been in the woman’s yard, near her back door, for five months while Japanese officials tried to figure out what to do with the device. Japanese troops routinely disarm and destroy 65-year-old unexploded ordnance from the Battle of Okinawa, but they’re not trained to handle explosives manufactured after World War II.
In November, the woman took the anti-tank rocket — which her husband, now dead, brought home 40 years ago — out of her home and placed it in her yard. A neighbor, worried it still could be active, called the police.
When first contacted, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force placed sandbags around the explosive. Finally, earlier this month, Okinawa officials asked the Marines for help. They arranged to train the Japanese bomb disposal team.
“We received an order from the chief of staff Tuesday evening to dispose of the ordnance,” JGSDF spokesman Capt. Hirofumi Shimoda said.
On Wednesday, the Japanese explosive experts from Naha spent a half day on Camp Foster training with Marine Corps explosive ordnance disposal specialists, he said. The team will defuse the explosive in the woman’s backyard.
“We were advised by the military to defuse the bomb at the site, because it is highly dangerous to remove it with a fuse on,” Shimoda said, adding that the team may defuse the bomb as early as Sunday.
The Marine Corps referred questions about its training of the Japanese explosive specialists to the JGSDF.
Stars and Stripes reporter Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this story.