Japan still has 5,003 underground air-raid shelters and underground military facilities left over from World War II, and 777 of them are on the verge of collapse, government officials said Friday.
The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry compiled the list after carrying out a nationwide survey in 2001.
Pointing to the public danger of these abandoned war relics, the ministry said there had been 13 reports of damage between 1999 and 2001 from collapsing underground wartime facilities.
In one fatal incident, which occurred in 2000 on a street in Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture, a woman was killed when her car plunged into a hole that opened after rain loosened the soil ceiling of an underground bomb shelter under the road.
The survey, conducted in cooperation with local governments, found that all but one of the nation’s 47 prefectures had some form of underground wartime facilities, such as bomb shelters and military factories.
The ministry will not reveal the location of the 777 sites deemed as being a danger to the public because some of them are beneath private properties.
The government launched a program in fiscal 1998 to fill in abandoned wartime shelters, but the project has made limited progress.
Under the program, the state kicks in half that spent by municipal governments to fill in the former shelters. Officials said only about 90 sites had been filled in as of the end of March.
The land ministry’s office for urban disaster prevention and relief said it costs more than 10 million yen on average to fill in a single underground facility. Local authorities are tackling the most dangerous sites first.
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