July 27, Tanashi Elementary School, Japan – Approximately 2,600 pieces of severely deteriorated WW2-era weapons were discovered while a construction company began work at Tanashi Elementary School. According to a report posted on the Nishitokyo Municipal Government website, an assortment of rifles, machine guns, grenades, swords and bayonets was discovered after crews drilled 3-7 feet in areas within the school grounds. About 1,400 firearms, 1,200 swords and at least 8 practice grenades were unearthed. Judging from the photos, the weapons are composed of mostly pre-1945 issue armaments, including various models of Arisaka rifles, Type 11 and Type 96 LMGs, Type 3 heavy machineguns, bayonets and grenade throwers.
Local police and members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force were called in to secure the weapons and safeguard the local populace. A local newspaper, the Manichi Daily noted that while many WW2-era weapons and unexploded ordnance are still found in Japan, “it is rare for weapons used by the now-defunct Imperial Japanese Army to be recovered in such a large quantity at one time.” It’s not known whether the site at which the Tanishi school was any sort of school campus during WW2, but officials of the Japanese Imperial Army made it a policy to include military training to students as part of their curriculum during those times.
Unearthing a large cache of weapons like these is unusual, since after the surrender of Japan in September of 1945, virtually all the country’s weapons and military equipment were surrendered to be scrapped, exported as trophies or museum pieces, or simply disposed of by throwing them into the sea.