28% more unexploded bomb disposals in 2016

Disposal work of unexploded ordnance, mostly from WWII, saw a sharp increase in 2016 from the previous year.

According to Okinawa Bomb Disposal Council, an organ consisting of representatives of the central government, Okinawa Prefecture, Self Defense Forces and other involved parties, unexploded ordnance was removed and disposed of in 612 cases within the prefecture in 2016, weighing a total of 27 tons, up six tons from the previous year. 72 of the ordnance were discovered at the new Okinawa Yaeyama Hospital construction site at the old Ishigaki Airport, counting for most of the increase.

The old Ishigaki Airport was originally used as an airport for the former Japanese Imperial Army during the war, and it had been a target of an intensive bombing campaign prior to the invasion of Okinawa.

The new hospital is constructed on a 40,000-square-meter site on the old runway. Using a “magnetic inspection method” that allows the search to cover a large area in short time, the site planners are considering to expand the search outside of the actual construction site. and that would almost certainly lead to more ordnance disposal work.

The same inspection method was also employed at sites in Itoman City and Yaese Town that were the location of fierce battles, resulting in 385 disposal cases of 5.7 tons of ordnance.