Dud Shell Disposal in Okinawa May Take 100 More Years

Society

Naha, Okinawa Pref., June 23 (Jiji Press)--It may take 70 to 100 more years to dispose of all of some 1,900 tons of bombs that did not explode during the Battle of Okinawa, a bloody ground battle waged 76 years ago in the final phase of World War II, and are thought to still remain in the southernmost Japan prefecture.

They are believed to be part of some 10,000 tons of unexploded ordnance. About 200,000 tons of munitions were used mainly for naval gunfire during the battle. Wednesday marks the 76th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa. Organized fighting in the ground battle is said to have ended on June 23, 1945.

On top of bomb disposal work by the U.S. military and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, a private-sector project was launched in 1974 to search for dud shells in Okinawa Prefecture, following a dud shell explosion accident in the year. The blast near a kindergarten in the prefectural capital of Naha killed four people and injured 34 others.

Many unexploded bombs are believed to remain in the soil in Naha and other parts of the prefecture where fierce fighting took place during the Battle of Okinawa, which started in March 1945.

But prior dud shell search is not mandatory for housing construction and other land use projects in those areas. Although subsidy programs were launched by the national and prefectural governments in 2012 to help cover bomb investigation costs, companies tend to avoid such probes out of concern over a delay in construction projects.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press