Workers defuse, remove 500-pound WWII-era bomb near MCAS Iwakuni
By JAMES BOLINGER AND HANA KUSUMOTO | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 18, 2019
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — A World War II-era American bomb was removed safely Sunday morning from a school construction site in Iwakuni by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
Explosive ordnance disposal technicians defused the bomb in two hours, an Iwakuni City crisis-management official said. The 500-pound bomb was discovered Jan. 7 at the construction site about 1.25 miles north of MCAS Iwakuni.
Iwakuni-based Marines and sailors were directed to shelter in place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. if they were near the construction site, which is close to the Iwakuni train station.
More than 1,000 people living within a 200-meter radius of the site were evacuated for the duration of the morning, the official said. The evacuation order was lifted at 11:17 a.m.
The bomb was approximately 3.5 feet long and more than a foot in diameter, according to an Iwakuni City press release. Officials believe it was dropped during an air raid Aug. 14, 1945.
“It’s not often that we find unexploded bombs,” the official said. It is customary in Japan for government spokesmen not to identify themselves by name when giving statements to the press.
The city last disposed of a World War II-era bomb about 30 years ago.
“Iwakuni was attacked by a large air raid, but it was mainly around the [Iwakuni] station and they are not scattered around the city,” the official said.
World War II munitions are not commonly found near Iwakuni. Some were discovered during the construction of Iwakuni station, he said.
“Most of them were removed soon after the war,” he said.