Suspected WWII-era bunker uncovered at Hardy Barracks in central Tokyo
By AARON KIDD AND HANA KUSUMOTO | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 2, 2016
HARDY BARRACKS, Japan — Officials have decided not to preserve or even explore a suspected World War II-era air-raid shelter discovered recently at a small Army installation in central Tokyo.
The bunker was found last month at Hardy Barracks, a former Imperial Japanese Army base that’s now home to a Morale, Welfare and Recreation lodging facility and Stars and Stripes’ Pacific headquarters. A construction crew uncovered the secret behind Stripes’ office building while installing a fire hydrant near a road that leads to a helipad, said Takayuki Sasaki, a construction-site manager for Nagayasu Kogyo, the company contracted for the work.
Workers dug about a meter down with a power shovel when the dirt suddenly fell, exposing a deep bunker that appeared to branch off in two directions, he said.
Construction was halted and the site was roped off and covered with a tarp while Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education officials decided how to proceed. They chose to fill in the bunker and go ahead with the construction, said Yoshihiro Tajiri, a civil engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Japan District.
“It probably means that something of this scale is unworthy of historical structure,” said Tajiri, who added the officials did not bother to inspect the site in person.
The bunker’s actual size is unknown, he said. A worker went inside to take photos; however, out of cautiousness, no one has ventured farther to see where it leads.
The site is not a safety hazard, Tajiri said. Before it’s filled in, a larger hole will be dug around the bunker to ensure the surrounding ground does not collapse.
It’s not unusual to find bunkers, tunnels and historical items during on-base construction projects, said Tajiri, who mentioned that work at the Ikego housing area near Yokosuka Naval Base was suspended for several months after crews uncovered some old earthenware at the site.
During the war, U.S. firebombing raids destroyed much of the city and killed an estimated 100,000 Japanese.