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Birdwatcher finds unexploded US WWII tank shell

Aircraft of the U.S. Navy Carrier Air Wing 5 (CVW-5) in flight near Mount Fuji, Japan, in 2012. (U.S. Navy)
October 03, 2023

In an unexpected twist during a leisurely birdwatching trip near the iconic Mount Fuji, a Japanese man stumbled upon an unexploded artillery shell from decades past, believed to have been produced during World War II.

The discovery has drawn attention from both U.S. and Japanese authorities, who have since worked collaboratively to ensure the safety of the area and its inhabitants.

According to Stars and Stripes, the birdwatcher, a resident of Kanagawa prefecture, made the remarkable discovery of the unexploded artillery shell on September 24th but did not report it a few days later. No reason has yet been announced regarding why the Japanese resident did not immediately report it.

A Fujiyoshida police spokesperson confirmed to Stars and Stripes that the object discovered by the Kanagawa resident was an unexploded shell with a 3 inch diameter and measuring roughly 10 inches long. The police spokesperson acknowledged that the unexploded shell appeared to be “quite old” and could possibly be dated from World War II.

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Nestled about 330 yards from the closest roadway, the shell’s presence posed a potential threat. Authorities did not take any chances with the unexploded shell, as police were deployed to guard the area throughout the weekend, ensuring that no unsuspecting individual would accidentally stumble upon it.

“Since it appears to have gunpowder inside, it could be dangerous,” the spokesman said.

Addressing the shell’s origins and its removal, Col. Neil J. Owens, the base commander of the Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji, confirmed that the ordnance team identified the shell as a “U.S. tank round” crafted during World War II.

Owens explained that the tank shell was “likely fired by U.S. Forces in training” sometime during the 1950s and 1960s. The shell was deemed safe for transportation and was “subsequently disposed” of according to military guidelines.

A representative from Camp Kita-Fuji highlighted the base’s rigorous monitoring of training ordnance, telling Stars and Stripes that they always track the detonation status of explosives.

This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.