Almost 70 years after the Second World War, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (SDF) continues to clear unexploded ordnance found all over the nation. Since 1958, when the government started maintaining records, some 6,000 tons of different kinds of bombs have already been recovered by the army from all over the country. In fiscal year 2011 alone, the SDF disposal team handled 38 tons.
It’s not even a surprise anymore when construction works uncover bombs. Some of these were dropped by United States forces and some were left by Japanese soldiers in what was then considered as munitions sites. Only last year, a 225-kilogram shell was found in the Motoakasaka neighborhood of Tokyo, near the palace grounds of Japan’s Crown Prince; this was properly disabled. At Sendai airport, the crews repairing a damaged runway caused by the 2011 tsunami found an explosive, forcing more than 100 flights cancelled. It was later found to be a dud.
It was estimated that about 160,000 tons of bombs were dropped on Japan’s main islands during the last five months of WWII. And, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushing for open construction spending, it is more likely that a surge in the discoveries of these bombs will take place. The dangers of disarming these explosives, of course, cannot be overstated. However, Lieutenant Colonel Masataka Takahashi, leader of the army’s Bomb Disposal Unit No. 102, tasked to cover central and eastern Japan, said that no squad members have been injured during disposal missions; he was adamant to keep it that way.[via Bloomberg]