YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Traffic on Yokota Air Base was blocked for several hours Monday after construction workers dug up an unexploded bomb.

Roads linking on-base schools and housing on the east side of the air base to the Yokota Community Center were blocked while explosive ordnance disposal technicians from Yokosuka Naval Station removed a foot-long mortar shell from a worksite.

“Emergency responders established a 500-foot cordon, notified Japanese authorities and contacted the EOD team, who later transported the mortar to a secure location on base for detonation,” base officials said in a statement.

Construction workers building new facilities on the base, which has seen an influx of Japanese Air Self Defense Force personnel in recent years, regularly find unexploded ordnance.

In July, children attending summer classes at Mendel Elementary School were evacuated after workers uncovered two World War II-era munitions nearby.

In December 2011, bomb experts detonated a 110-pound bomb found at a construction site on the west side of the air base’s runway. The bomb, a leftover from WWII, was found about 10 feet beneath the surface and was detonated with C-4 explosives.

Yokota was a Japanese military facility during WWII. But 374th Airlift Wing spokesman Capt. Ray Geoffroy said it was not bombed by the U.S. and that most of the old ordnance found there was likely abandoned.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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