Ship part

A Japanese Coast Guard vessel mistakenly fires live ammunition at Okinawa Pref. island

This file photo shows the central government building No. 3, located in the Chiyoda district of Tokyo, which houses the Japanese coast guard. (Mainichi/Kazuo Motohashi)

A Japanese Coast Guard patrol vessel docked on a remote island in Okinawa Prefecture mistakenly fired eight cannon rounds at land near the main road and a fuel tank for boats on the island on 19 July.

Crew members of the ship Shimoji, which was moored at Nagayama Port on Irabu Island, fired the 20mm cannon at around 11:10 a.m. by mistake during an inspection. According to the Miyakojima Coast Guard Office, no injuries or damage to facilities have been confirmed. It examines whether the inspection procedure was appropriate.

The Coast Guard Office said several crew members had inspected the gun at the time of the incident and that cartridge cases worth eight rounds had been found near the gun. Although it is unclear where the ammunition landed, a prefectural road and a tank of heavy oil for ships were within firing range as the road was only about 170 meters from the patrol boat and the oil tank was about 250 meters away. The prefectural road is the main artery of the island and many tourists and accommodation establishment workers use the road during the day.

The Okinawa prefectural government said it received a report from the coastguard just after noon the same day and was asked by the government to confirm the cause of the incident and give residents a thorough explanation.

The head of the prefectural government’s disaster prevention and crisis management division, Hidenori Ikehara, said, “It could have been a serious incident if a bullet hit a car because the prefectural road is close. tourists are worried.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference on July 19: “It is very regrettable. We are aware that the Japanese Coast Guard will investigate the facts and cause of the incident. .”

A manager of an accommodation facility about 2 kilometers from the port told the Mainichi Shimbun: “We have many reservations for the summer vacation season. If a dangerous image spreads, it can affect tourism.

A woman working at a nearby restaurant commented, “It’s scary to think that live ammunition has been fired at a main road I’m traveling on. I want the coast guard to improve their handling.”

(Japanese original by Hiroshi Higa, Naha Bureau; Hayato Jojima and Ken Nakazato, Kyushu News Department)