Construction of a new airport on the small Japanese island of Musuko-Tō involved flattening a few small spurs of the craggy central highland peaks, and was begin in earnest in 1977. However, the project quickly ground to a halt when a subterranean chamber hollowed out of the rock was uncovered by one of the blasts. A team from Edo University was dispatched to investigate, with the authorities presuming that they had uncovered one of the fortifications collapsed by the Imperial defenders or the American invaders during the 1944 battle for the island.

Nothing could have been further from the truth.

The Edo University team, led by Dr. Elizabeth Keiko Oshiro, discovered a very elaborate complex with a 1,600 cubic meter central chamber (with dimensions of 14 by 5 by 3 meters), complete with a 45,000 liter water cistern which caught freshwater from several mountain streamlets above. The subterranean chambers also included tunnels which led to a series of cunningly disguised observation posts overlooking the Musuko-Tō harbor, the old wartime airstrip, and other strategic locations. A portal which had once linked the new discoveries with the combat tunnels was also located: it had been bricked up and camouflaged to blend in, presumably to hide it from any Americans who might penetrate the defenses.

But it was the letters and personal papers Dr. Oshiro discovered that told of the real tragedy of Cave 97.

Written by two Kempeitai, 1st Lieutenant Ketsuo Nashimura and Sergeant Nobuoyuki Yakaguchi, the papers told of how the complex had been prepared once an American invasion was imminent, with volunteers literally sealed inside it with a supply of food and water. They were expected to use the viewports to spy on Allied troop and ship movements and report the same using a shortwave radio. The idea had been to leave them behind enemy lines as spies of a sort, to prepare for the inevitable Imperial retaking of the island.

Instead, the complex became their tomb. Dr. Oshiro determined that their shortwave antenna had been installed incorrectly, leaving it unable to send or receive signals. Unaware of this, and under orders not to commit suicide, the occupants had dutifully transmitted reports that were never heard until their supplies of food had given out in mid-1951 and the men had quietly stared to death.

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