Japanese Birdwatcher Stumbles Across Unexploded American Tank Shell Near Mount Fuji

Photo Credit: PHILIP FONG / AFP / Getty Images
Photo Credit: PHILIP FONG / AFP / Getty Images

A birdwatcher in Japan got more than he bargained for while looking for fowl near Mount Fuji when he happened to come across an unexploded American tank shell. The unexpected discovery was reported and prompted an investigation by both Japanese and US authorities.

Two M777 howitzers displaying the American and Japanese flags at the Combined Arms Training Center (CATC) Camp Fuji
Combined Arms Training Center (CATC) Camp Fuji. (Photo Credit: Pfc. Karis Mattingly / U.S. Marine Corps / United States Department of Defense / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

The man, who lives in Kanagawa Prefecture, found the tank shell approximately 330 yards from the nearest road at Mount Fuji, a popular Japanese tourist spot on September 24, 2023. However, he didn’t report his discovery to the Japan Ground Self- Defense Force’s Camp Kita-Fuji until the 30th, according to a spokesperson with the Fujiyoshida Police Station.

Speaking with Stars & Stripes, the spokesperson confirmed that officials responded to the area and located the object, which they speculated dated back to the Second World War. It measured 10 inches long and three inches in diameter, and it appeared “quite old.”

Concerned for the public’s safety, police officers were stationed at the site until an ordnance team from the Combined Arms Training Center (CATC) Camp Fuji arrived. The US Marine Corps training base is located some eight miles from where the tank shell was found.

The team arrived on October 2 and removed the shell. In an email to Stars & Stripes, base commander Col. Neil J. Owens said it was determined to be a “US tank round” that was manufactured during World War II and “likely fired by U.S. Forces in training” between the 1950s and ’60s.

It was determined to be safe and was “subsequently disposed” of in accordance with regulations.

Aerial view of Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji, Japan. (Photo Credit: RICHARD A. BROOKS / AFP / Getty Images)

More from us: Ukrainian Officer Calls Russia for Tech Support After Captured T-72B3 Tank Breaks Down

The American forces fired a number of tank and artillery shells around Mount Fuji during the 1950s, as discussed by an article featured in The New York Times in May ’55, which was titled, “U.S. Artillery Firing on Mt. Fuji Is Rising as Major Issue in Japan; Question Brought Up in Diet Committee – Larger-Caliber Guns Being Used – Anti-Americanism a Factor.”

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

Writing Portfolio
Stories of the Unsolved