OKUNOSHIMA, Hiroshima Pref. -- With its turquoise waters, quiet forest paths, palm trees and spectacular views of the mainland and other islands of the Inland Sea, Okunoshima Island has the feel of a resort somewhere in the Aegean Sea or the South Pacific.

Every hour, the ferry from Honshu disgorges another group of people looking for a quiet beach vacation. Children and their mothers splash in the swimming pool or head to the beach, while others browse the gift shop at the hot spring resort.

But closer scrutiny of this idyllic scene finds something sinister. Crumbling, half-hidden concrete structures dot the island, and smashed-up machines of concrete and ceramic litter the trails. These are all that remain of Okunoshima's past as a military installation that produced thousands of tons of poison gas.