Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force says the misfiring of a mortar shell during training last month was due to failed safety checks. Nineteen personnel are being penalized for the incident.
The shell landed near a national highway near the GSDF training ground in Shiga Prefecture in western Japan. No one was injured but a vehicle was damaged by debris.
In a report released on Tuesday, GSDF officials say the shell was mistakenly pointed more than 20 degrees away from the intended target. A member of the unit in charge of safety failed to check this, as is normally required.
The report says the field commander then ordered the firing although members had not yet reported that all the required checks were carried out.
GSDF officials say safety was sacrificed for the sake of completing the drill on time. They are penalizing 19 personnel, including the field commander who will be suspended from duty for eight days.
GSDF Chief of Staff Koji Yamazaki blamed the incident on a lack of safety awareness within the entire force. He promised thorough re-education to prevent similar incidents from happening again.