Support our mission
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force blows up hundreds of munitions leftover from World War II, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, about a half-mile from Naha Port’s Shinko Wharf.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force blows up hundreds of munitions leftover from World War II, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, about a half-mile from Naha Port’s Shinko Wharf. (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The first of more than 600 unexploded munitions uncovered on Okinawa this year were detonated underwater this week by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

The service blew up 319 items, including bullets and grenades, at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, about a half-mile offshore from Naha Port’s Shinko Wharf, a Naha city spokesman told Stars and Stripes by phone Thursday.

The ordnance was uncovered during the dredging of Naha Port between March and November. They are believed to be American-made and dropped during the pivotal Battle of Okinawa that lasted from April 1 to June 22, 1945, the city spokesman said.

“The disposal was conducted as planned and without any trouble,” he said. It was the largest amount of recovered munitions detonated at one time since 1995.

The remaining 315 items will be disposed of on Jan. 26, the city spokesman said.

Since 1972, when Okinawa was returned to Japanese control, 2,094 tons of unexploded ordnance have been found and detonated in Okinawa prefecture, a spokesman from the prefecture’s Disaster Prevention and Crisis Management Division said by phone Thursday.

“The number of unexploded ordnance found in Okinawa is decreasing,” he said. Last year, only 14.5 tons were uncovered and disposed of.

author picture
Matthew M. Burke has been reporting from Okinawa for Stars and Stripes since 2014. The Massachusetts native and UMass Amherst alumnus previously covered Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the newspaper. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, Cape Cod Times and other publications.
twitter Email
author picture
Mari Higa is an Okinawa-based reporter/translator who joined Stars and Stripes in 2021. She previously worked as a research consultant and translator. She studied sociology at the University of Birmingham and Hitotsubashi University Graduate School of Social Sciences.
twitter Email

Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up