Close call: students found playing with unexploded hand grenade

Close call: students found playing with unexploded hand grenade

U.S. hand grenade found by elementary students in Kakuzu, Ginowan, taken on May 30 (photograph provided by prefectural police)

June 6, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

On June 5, it was discovered that several male elementary and junior high school students were found playing with an unexploded hand grenade on May 30 in Ginowan, Okinawa. The students had been throwing it around and bicycling around with it in their bicycle baskets. After a student took the grenade back home, parents reported it to the Ginowan Police Station. The grenade was then collected by the Self-Defense Forces. The students were unharmed. Schools are cautioning people not to touch bombs even if they discover them as this situation was a “near catastrophe.”

According to representatives of the Ginowan Police Stations and Ginowan Municipal Ojana Elementary School where the students attend, the students discovered the grenade in a pile of rocks near the Taimo taro field in Kakazu around 6 p.m. on May 30. The said location is along the Makiminato River that borders Ginowan and Urasoe. There is also a children’s center nearby.

According to a representative of the Ground Self-Defense Force Bomb Disposal Unit, the grenade is a U.S. hand grenade that was used during the Battle of Okinawa. It is 11.5 cm in length and weighs 640 grams. The fuse was broken, which prevented the grenade from detonating. Through the Okinawa Prefectural Police Headquarters, the Ginowan Police Station asked for assistance from the Ground Self-Defense Force’s 15th Brigade. The Ground Self-Defence Forces collected the grenade at 8:13 p.m.

On May 31, after receiving the news from the parents, Ojana Elementary School planned to caution all parents and residents of the local area by June 4. The city’s board of education also planned to caution all elementary and junior high schools within the city by June 5. Ojana Elementary School Principal Minoru Souda said, “It made me shudder. We would like to continue to advise students: “do not touch,” “do not move,” and to “notify an adult.” Other parents said they felt fear as the grenade was found in an area where their own children often play.

(English translation by T&CT and Chelsea Ashimine)

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