Officials investigate two explosions near Zama
Two small explosions were reported near Camp Zama on Monday night, Japanese police and military officials said. Local police said Tuesday morning they were investigating the incident as a possible attack on the base.
Two small metal pipes, believed to be used as launchers, were found at a park near the U.S. Army base south of Tokyo by police officers who were searching the area after receiving a phone call around 11 p.m. Monday from a local resident who heard two explosions, a Zama Police spokesman said.
The police contacted base officials and nearby residents, the spokesman said, adding that no injuries or damages were reported.
In a telephone interview, U.S. Army Japan spokeswoman Maj. Martha Brooks said the incident had been “blown completely out of proportion” and deferred further comment to local police.
Pentagon spokesman Maj. David Smith said a “small explosion was heard in the vicinity of the base. It did not occur on the base.”
Police suspect the metal pipes were used to launch projectiles at the base, the Zama Police spokesman said.
He said the pipes were found facing the base and that leaves underneath them were burnt.
The metal pipes were found at Yatoyama Park, less than a kilometer southwest of the base, the spokesman said. Similar pipes were found at the park in November 2002 after two explosions were reported.
After those explosions, two projectiles were found, one on the roof of a home outside the base. Mortar devices also were found near Yokota Air Base in March 2003, but no damage was reported.
In April 2003, the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun reported it received a statement from a group claiming responsibility for an attack that month on Naval Air Facility Atsugi.
In that incident, two metal pipes were found in a wooded area about 875 yards northwest of the base.
Police raided locations linked to a political leftist “Kakurokyo” group in 2004 that reportedly claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Experts have said that these groups use these attacks as a political statement rather than a serious terrorist attack, and injuries or significant damage are rare.
Stars and Stripes reporter Jeff Schogol and the Associated Press contributed to this report.