Sendai Airport Opens with WWII Bomb Still Present

A huge World War II bomb uncovered near a busy runway at Sendai airport in Miyagi Prefecture was underneath a shield of concrete and sandbags on Wednesday as flights resumed, a government official said.

A worker rebuilding drainage systems at the Airport—which was swamped by last year’s tsunami—on Monday uncovered the 225-kilogram bomb, believed to have been dropped by U.S. forces.

Bomb disposal experts ordered the construction of three-meter-high concrete walls, supported by soil up to the same height, to protect the bomb.

Crews piled some 300 sandbags, each weighing a ton, on top of the mound to construct a casing that stands six meters high.

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Japan Airport Closed After WWII Bomb Found

A major airport in northern Japan was closed Tuesday after construction workers found an unexploded bomb believed to be from World War II.

All 92 flights in and out of Sendai airport were cancelled after the 250-kilogram (550-pound) bomb was uncovered during construction near a runway, local police official Hiroshi Ouchi said. The bomb was identified as American-made and is believed to be a dud from World War II.

It appeared to have a working detonator, and a military bomb squad was considering whether to move the bomb or explode it on the spot. Evacuations of nearby homes were being considered, Ouchi said.

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Okinawa Marks WWII Battle Anniversary

Okinawa Prefecture on Saturday marked the 67th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa during World War II. This came after the recent celebration of the 40th anniversary of the prefecture’s reversion to Japanese sovereignty.

At a memorial ceremony in Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, southern Okinawa Prefecture, where the last fierce battle was waged, Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima spoke about the burden of hosting U.S. military facilities. He urged the central government and the United States to curtail the burden and consider relocating the U.S. Marine Corp’s Futenma Air Station in Ginowan to somewhere outside the prefecture.

“Okinawa still hosts a large concentration of U.S. military facilities, forcing its people to shoulder a heavy burden,” he said.

The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and about 5,500 people, including the bereaved families of those whose lives were claimed during the battle.

Read the rest of the story: Okinawa marks WWII battle anniversary as anxiety over continued US military presence continues.

Sydney’s Minisub Wreck Opened to Divers

Australia will open up to divers the wreck of a Japanese minisubmarine that famously attacked Sydney harbor during World War II, after winning support from Tokyo, authorities said Monday.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the event — which sparked public hysteria in the city — New South Wales Environment Minister Robyn Parker said controlled diving access would be allowed.

“Diver access will be on a trial basis and the move is strongly supported by both the Commonwealth and the Japanese governments,” she said in a statemen

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Japanese minisub wreck found in Rabaul harbor

The sunken wreck of a Japanese World War II submarine was found partially buried in the seabed of a Papua New Guinea harbor during a search for unexploded munitions, Australia’s military said Friday.

Australian and New Zealand warships found it 55 meters underwater while working in the area to clear WWII-era explosives Thursday, a Defense Department statement said.

Simpson Harbor is in the town of Rabaul, which was a major Japanese base on the northeast coast of the South Pacific nation.

The wreck is partially buried in sand but upright. Australian navy historians had concluded from underwater images that the wreck is Japanese, the statement said.

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Yakusho Koji to portray Yamamoto Isoroku in “Rengo Kantai Shirei Chokan: Yamamoto Isoroku”

Yakusho Koji (55) is set to star in a film called “Rengo Kantai Shirei Chokan: Yamamoto Isoroku,” directed by Narushima Izuru. He will play the part of Yamamoto Isoroku, who was the commander-in-chief of Japan’s Combined Fleet during the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II.

The movie is a 1 billion yen project that has been in the works for the past four years. It promises to show a side of Yamamoto that has not been publicly known before, and the production staff declared that it wants to present an image of “what a Japanese leader should be.”

Born in 1884, Yamamoto grew up to become a graduate of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1904, and he served during the Russo-Japanese War. He later studied at Harvard University, then was promoted to captain within the Japanese Navy in 1923.

He continued to rise in the ranks, though he was personally opposed to many of the military actions taken by Japan before and during World War II. Although he was strongly reluctant to engage in war against the United States, Yamamoto was responsible for the planning of the preemptive attack on Pearl Harbor, which Japan hoped would be devastating enough to prevent the American naval forces from being able to interfere with Japanese operations in the Pacific.

After his defeat at the Battle of Midway, Yamamoto died in 1943 during a flight to the Solomon Islands when his aircraft was ambushed by American fighter planes.

The movie appears to focus on portraying Yamamoto as one who loved peace, cherished his subordinates, and agonized after becoming commander-in-chief. The production team describes Yamamoto as someone who “thought about human life and the future of Japan, and who possessed decisiveness and a forward-looking international sensibility.” Because of Japan’s current plight due to the recent Tohoku earthquake and Fukushima nuclear crisis, the staff also hopes to somehow present the meaning of true leadership.

According to a quote from someone involved in the project, Yakusho was the only actor ever considered for the role, and the movie would have been canceled if he turned it down. He was offered the part during the summer two years ago, and he accepted during the winter of last year.

The battle scenes will make extensive use of CG and special effects. Filming starts in Tokyo on May 15, and will continue in various parts of Japan with cooperation from the Ministry of Defense.

Toei plans to release the movie in theaters on December 23, 2011.

Grave robbers – Philippine remains ‘sold as Japan war dead’

Grave robbers have dug up the remains of Philippine tribesmen and passed them off as the bodies of Japanese soldiers for return to Japan, tribal leaders said Wednesday.

The skeletons of hundreds of Mangyan and Ifugao tribesmen have been shipped to Japan since 2008 after being unearthed by looters paid by a Japanese group called Kuentai that purports to find remains of the country’s World War II dead, they claimed.

Aniw Lubag, a Mangyan leader, told a news conference his tribe briefly detained three people in 2008 as they stole bones from a burial cave on the central island of Mindoro.

"They said they were hired by non-Mangyans. We heard other Filipinos ordered (the digging up of bones) and then gave them to Kuentai," said Lubag.

Caesar Dulnuan, a head of the Ifugao tribal group, said skeletons had vanished from the northern mountain community after the Japanese group began searching for the remains of war dead in the area.

"We don’t know who received the bones. There were a lot of people and they paid them 500 pesos (11.40 dollars)" per skeleton, he said.

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Japan to excavate site of WWII human experiments

Japan is starting to excavate the site of a former medical school that may reveal grisly secrets from World War II.

The investigation begins Monday at the former school linked to Unit 731, a germ and biological warfare outfit during the war. Shadowy experiments conducted by the unit on war prisoners have never been officially acknowledged by the government but have been documented by historians and participants.

It is the first government probe of the Tokyo site, and follows a former nurses revelation that she helped bury body parts there as American forces began occupying the capital at the end of the war.

Health Ministry official Kazuhiko Kawauchi said the excavation is aimed at finding out if anything is buried in the plot.

"We are not certain if the survey will find anything," Kawauchi said. "If anything is dug up, it may not be related to Unit 731."

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Japan’s ‘War Heroes’

British and Japanese ultranationalists will shrug off protests from war veterans in an unlikely show of solidarity at a controversial Tokyo memorial today, on the 65th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in the Second World War.

The British National Party member Adam Walker and France’s most famous Holocaust-denier, Jean-Marie Le Pen, will be among a group of European delegates to visit the Yasukuni Shrine, which venerates the militarists who led Japan’s brief but disastrous rampage across Asia.

"I realise that there are war veterans in the UK who will see this as an insult, especially on V-J day, but Yasukuni is dedicated to the souls of men who died fighting for their country," said Mr Walker. "It’s easy to point fingers now but these people were doing what they thought was right at the time."

Read the rest of the story: Far right pays tribute to Japan’s ‘war heroes’ – Asia, World – The Independent.