Doofus Of The Day #909

Today’s award goes to several embarrassed members of Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force.

Japan’s military officials may be feeling a bit sheepish after their troops accidentally fired dozens of live rounds at one another during a military exercise – though no one was hit by the stray bullets.

Nine members of the country’s Ground Self-Defence Force (GSDF) reportedly shot as many as 79 live rounds at one another during the military drill in northernmost Hokkaido after mistakenly loading assault rifles with the wrong ammunition.

Two people sustained minor injuries – a sergeant in his 30s and a leading private in his twenties – although to the force’s relief no one was shot by bullets during the incident on Monday, according to Kyodo News.

. . .

Bullets are typically handed to each troop just before the drill, before being loaded into their rifles, according to Kyodo News.

Confusion reportedly surrounds how such a mistake could take place as troops generally understand the difference in appearance between life and blank rounds.

There’s more at the link.

I’m still mind-boggled at this news.  During my military service I had plenty of opportunities to fire ‘blank’ rounds.  There was never any doubt, visually or by feel, how to differentiate them from ‘live’ ammunition.  How the hell did these soldiers not know the difference?  And after the first injury, why did they continue using the real stuff?  Was this a case of, “Because I said so!  The Army doesn’t pay you to think, private!  Get on with it!” ?

However it happened, there’s egg (or should that be egg drop soup?) on several Japanese faces right now . . .



  1. How the hell did these soldiers not know the difference?

    No gun culture. At least not real guns. But, this may also have contributed to the lack of hits.

  2. They must've never trained with blanks before since it would've required installing a blank firing adaptor. Even when doing training with a big yellow iron thingy attached to my muzzle I wouldn't point the rifle at anyone.

  3. I vaguely remember an incident I read about concerning a JAL plane making the wrong approach to a US airport. The cabin crew got the passengers prepared for an emergency landing as neither the copilot nor other crew members felt that they could point out to the captain that he was mistaken. Fortunately they landed safely but off to one side.
    Seems to be a very top down society.

  4. According to a couple of people I've read online, there have been 3 such incidents in US forces in the last 12 months, with 2 deaths. Most recent was at NTC where someone fired about five rounds. First one blew off the BFA; the next 4 hit the Apache he was aiming at…..

  5. They must've never trained with blanks before since it would've required installing a blank firing adaptor.

    I think this could be it. I have heard of incidents where the troops are given blanks, but not used any adaptor since it's believed "it's blanks" and therefore harmless on their own.

    I suspect that they were indeed using blanks, but without the adaptors. That makes the rounds live, though not nearly as effective as real bullets. That also fits the result where two people were injured and noone killed.

  6. @Erik

    The adapters aren't for safety, you use the adapter so that your weapon will cycle normally instead of needing to cycle the bolt manually after every shot.

    On the other hand…
    The blank adapters used by the Howa Type 89 rifles aren't necessarily visible as noted in the picture at imfdb.

  7. +1 to Freedom's comment.

    The BBC ran a bogus story after the rescue of Jessica Lynch in the Iraq War, saying that our troops were firing blanks. The story was pretty quickly and thoroughly busted.

    The biggest problem was that weapons modified for blanks are, well, modified. None of which says that a live .223 round wouldn't mess up the mod …

  8. As dumb a mistake as this is, what is more embarrassing: that they fired live rounds accidentally or that they didn't manage to seriously wound anyone they fired at?

    Double plusembarassing.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *