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Friends say ammo collector warned of danger before

Date Posted: 2003-09-19

More than 3,000 Japanese Air Self Defense Force personnel from Naha District participated in a safety meeting this week, only days after the accidental death of MSgt Takio Tamura. Tamura died when a U.S. made anti-tank rocket he possessed illegally exploded.

Some people who had been acquaintances of Tamura said during the meeting he had been warned and admonished by his former superior about his explosive collection. They claimed Tamura had been ordered at one point to write a letter of oath to his boss, promising he would never collect anything dangerous. Many witnesses claimed that Tamura had shown them the letter.

Persons who knew Tamura said he had been notoriously hard headed. “Officers always gave him advice, but he never took the advice on anything,” one of the friends said. “His superior finally had it and ordered him to write the letter,” the friend explained.

Officials at the JASDF deny, however, that such a letter exists. “There’s no official letter of oath that we are aware of. If such a letter exists it may have been something personal between him and his superior,” a spokesman for the JASDF said.

“However, we are taking steps to make sure that no one who is a member of the Self Defense Forces will collect such dangerous items in the future,” the spokesman assured. Tamura had a 32-year career in the JASDF. According the Japanese law his family is entitled to a full retirement pay as his death was caused by an accident. Police plan to send his case to the Prosecutor’s Office, a move that is likely to indict him posthumously.

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