NAHA, Okinawa Pref. – An Air Self-Defense Force member who died in an explosion Sunday in the city of Okinawa kept an arsenal in his home, consisting of two antitank rockets, a U.S. military issue M-16 rifle and about 500 rounds of live ammunition, police said.
The Okinawa Prefectural Police suspect Senior Master Sgt. Takio Tamura, 53, was handling munitions in violation of the explosives and firearms control laws. They will send papers on the dead man to prosecutors.
Tamura died instantly in the explosion at a junkyard at 3:50 p.m. Sunday. He was stationed at the ASDF’s Naha base.
The base commander, Maj. Gen. Kiyoshi Yada, meanwhile offered Okinawa Mayor Masakazu Nakasone an apology on behalf of the Self-Defense Forces over the incident.
“We apologize for the anxiety and trouble caused to city officials and residents,” Yada said.
Nakasone responded by urging the ASDF to find out how Tamura obtained his arsenal and to ensure that nothing similar happens again.
The police said they confiscated all the munitions except for the rockets, which posed a danger if moved because their fuses were still intact. The rockets had no warheads, they added.