Crumbling "War Witness"

Oct. 4

Atop a cliff facing the Pacific Ocean in the Mombetsu area of Hiroo Town in Eastern Hokkaido’s Tokachi region, there is a concrete mass that looks like it might crumble apart at any moment. It is a “tochka” (defensive fortification) constructed by the now-defunct Japanese Army built to prevent US forces from invading Japanese territory.

According to the History Design Specialist Committee of the Architectural Institute of Japan, Hokkaido Chapter (Sapporo), this tochka is a rectangular structure situated approximately 10 meters above the sea level, and is 4.5 meters both in height and width, and 6.5 meters in depth. The wall has a hole for weapons firing (gunport), and each tochka is outfitted with one spot for entrance and exit.

When originally constructed, the tochka was built in the ground, but long years of wind, waves, and snow have resulted in its current condition. Specialist Committee member Onodera notes, “The construction is fragile because it was a rush building job for expediency in a crisis. It is only a matter of time before it crumbles and collapses.” At the coast of Hama Taiki in the town of Taiki, approximately 15 kilometers northeast, a tochka collapse atop the same kind of cliff setup was confirmed in September of last year.

In Hokkaido, approximately 80 tochkas built between 1944 and 1945 have been discovered, mainly along the Pacific Ocean coast. Of these, 38 are dispersed throughout the Tokachi region.

76 years have passed since WWII ended, but gunports still face towards the Pacific Ocean.

Location

Mombetsu area of Hiroo Town

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