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Old chemical weapons have MND, Urasoe City worried

Date Posted: 2008-05-16

Abandoned bombs have been uncovered in Urasoe City, and officials think they may be chemical weapons from decades ago.

The Ministry of National Defense has been keeping quiet about the discovery, and Urasoe City staffers say there’s been some panic about the chemical weapons in their city. The abandoned bombs were found in the city, but city officials were unable to get help from the Ministry of Defense or from Self Defense Forces, who said they didn’t know how to take care of the weapons.

Urasoe City Mayor Mitsuo Gima, who said the JSDF “sat on its hands because it never happened before and nobody knew how to collect chemical weapons”, appealed for help from the head of the Defense Agency, from various ministries, from Okinawa Prefecture and from the American Consulate General in Naha City. “Please take these weapons away from my city,” he pleaded. “Quickly remove them.”

Gima says he wanted the weapons moved out, but Defense officials said nobody “had the manuals for collections of chemical weapons.” The frustrated mayor said he did get a phone call from the Self Defense Force, but asks “if there’s no manual, should the government side panic?” After getting no help from government, Gima turned to the media.

Newspaper stories appeared on April 24th, and Gima himself met reporters last Thursday. He said he had not gone public with announcements earlier “because I didn’t want citizens to panic on hearing the rumors.” The U.S. military came to the Urasoe City mayor’s aid, taking the antiquated bombs into its possession.

The chemical weapons are now in storage at an ammunition magazine at Kadena Air Base.

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