Since 2008, Komatsu has been engaging in collaborative efforts with the Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS) to support the demining of anti-personnel landmines. In addition to removing mines, we also provide reconstruction work as part of a community development project. Through the technical expertise and manufacturing knowledge we have gained through our business operations, our equipment that excel in demining and reconstruction work have been playing important roles.
Our target is to transform landmine infested lands to safe lands, and further on to lands with value by constructing roads and facilities. Going forward, we will continue to promote activities that contribute to the recovery of the entire regions utilizing our construction machinery, which is Komatsu's main business.
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|Road construction / maintenance||
8 (which holds about 600 school children)
We started support of unexploded bomb disposal activities in 2016 in Laos.
In Laos, about 36% of the land is riddled with unexploded bombs, many of which are cluster sub-munitions.
This is a problem on a massive scale, with children and farmers suffering bomb-related injuries on a yearly basis.
Komatsu plays its part by offering the necessary equipment to UXO-LAO (a Lao unexploded bomb disposal squad) and the Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS) free of charge, alongside engineering support for the machines it provides.
Following the success of the demining machine for anti-personnel landmines we have used Komatsu's past experiences and techniques to develop removal machines for processing unexploded ordnance based on hydraulic excavator PC130-8, and continue the disposal activities.
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As part of the "Visiting Lecture" initiative, Komatsu employees visit schools in Japan and introduce these activities to a wide range of students from elementary to university levels. As of today, we have carried out lectures for about 5,500 students over a total of 60 times.
We had the pleasure to provide a "Visiting Lecture" at an elementary school for 6th graders. One of the students had this to say: "I heard KOMATSU's Story today. I realized that there were many landmines yet to be left and Komatsu helped remove landmines to move them somewhere safe. I was surprised to see that the machines Komatsu provided did not break, even after rolling over landmines. Please keep up the good work until all landmines have been removed in the world." Through this initiatives, Komatsu continues to nurture children, giving them opportunities to consider their future and ways of living.
Utilization of construction machine technology for landmine removal
- Efforts to remove anti-personnel landmines -
First model of the D85MS-15 demining machine being tested in Afghanistan
With the advent of numerous conflicts in various areas around the world, an enormous quantity of anti-personnel landmines came to be laid. Despite the restoration of peace in these conflict zones, the still-armed mines continue to be a massive threat. Un-deactivated mines claim over 20,000 victims annually, many of whom are ordinary people going about their daily lives or children playing in fields.
The Ottawa Treaty was forged in 1999 in order to resolve this ongoing issue, which provides comprehensive prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. With this treaty being signed by over 150 nations (including Japan), we can see validated proof that momentum for the abolition of anti-personnel landmines has spread throughout Japan and the world.
It takes an inordinate amount of time and meticulous attention to detect and remove anti-personnel landmines manually. Cambodia is an excellent example of this fact; of the 6 million landmines laid during the civil war, only about 350,000 have been destroyed in the 15 years after the end of the war (1992 to 2006, according to the Cambodia Mine Action Centre). Going by this rate of progress, the complete removal of landmines would require more than 240 years, which would continue to put both citizens and manual removal workers at great risk.
With this considered, Komatsu believes that using a machine for this manner of work would minimize the danger of potentially fatal accidents while dramatically increasing the speed and efficiency of mine removal. This would involve a demining machine that can crush or explode landmines buried near the surface by scratching at or pounding on the ground. Such a machine would often utilize a structure or functions that are similar to the chasses and attachments used by construction equipment. We are thus confident that the specialize technology and experience in manufacturing we have acquired through our business operations in manufacturing construction equipment will prove invaluable in the development of a demining machine for anti-personnel landmines that is both efficient and safe.
Back in 1998, Komatsu began development of machines to perform requisite pre-demining tasks, such as the removal of shrubbery. In 2002, the Japanese government approved exports of demining machines for anti-personnel landmines, and in 2003 Komatsu applied for the public offering of subsidies of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), embarking on the full-scale development of demining machines. In December 2003, we completed the production of our prototype.
The base of the machine is a bulldozer with a chassis weight of about 27 tons. In addition to excellent reliability and durability, such a machine has the ability to cover rocky terrain, damp ground, and sloping land quickly and thereby clear even large areas effectively. Replacement parts are easy to obtain, and by changing the vehicle's front attachment, the machine can also be used as a bulldozer for ground leveling operations. It can be used in road construction work and other operations in the future.
Moreover, this machine features remote control technology for construction equipment that has been already proven to have practical applications in disaster recovery areas. Through remote operation, the operator's safety can be further enhanced.
Since many countries have now completely abolished the use of anti-personnel landmines, demonstration testing of demining machines' capabilities must take place in actual minefields. Komatsu has engaged in thorough testing of the capabilities of our developed machines in Afghanistan since 2004.
About 80% of Afghanistan's land is arid and mountainous, and during the long period of conflict approximately ten million anti-personnel landmines are estimated to have been laid around the country. Furthermore, antitank landmines can be found in minefields in addition to anti-personnel landmines. Demining machines must be able to withstand these even larger explosions while protecting their occupants, and must be able to extricate themselves from minefields safely. Tests to confirm the functionality and reliability of the vehicle were conducted repeatedly with great caution, also making use of remote operation technologies.
Field tests began in Cambodia in 2006. The objective was to verify the machine's capability to clear terrain, which, unlike Afghanistan, features mud flats and areas covered with bushes. The results of the testing showed great promise, with the Komatsu anti-personnel landmine demining machine succeeding in demonstrating clearance capabilities of 500 square meters per hour on average. This is from 25 to over 50 times the speed of manual clearance (although this varies according to conditions during the clearance operations). Operation of our demining machine for two or three days can produce one hectare of safe land. In Cambodia, converting that land into fields will enable two or three families to support themselves.
What is essential for safe and efficient antipersonnel landmine removal operations is not only the development of vehicles but also technical training of local operators of the equipment. In the spring of 2004, Komatsu invited people from landmine removal NGOs operating in Afghanistan to Japan for the first time and conducted technical training.
Through a single one of our demining machines, we have enhanced interaction among people centered on demining operations. In addition, through getting to know the countries now working towards reconstruction and interacting with the local communities, a new commitment has been born within Komatsu that drives us to redouble our already significant efforts.
The demining machine for anti-personnel landmines has had its capabilities and reliability thoroughly verified and has been deployed by a local NGO in Afghanistan through ODA funding from the Japanese government since September 2007.
In January 2008, Komatsu and the Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS), a nonprofit organization of Japan, signed an agreement to jointly demine anti-personnel landmines in the contaminated regions and reconstruct local communities after demining. JMAS is a nonprofit organization staffed mainly by the retired individuals of Japan's Defense Agency. Owing to their previous vocation, these retirees are possessed of a wealth of technical expertise and experiences. Since 2002, JMAS has engaged in clearing landmines and unexploded ordnances (UXOs), as well as digging wells and providing educational programs. Its zealous efforts also include the provision of technical personnel in cooperation with the governments of Cambodia, Laos and Afghanistan. Komatsu believes that the combination of our demining machine technologies and JMAS' experiences and know-how should enable faster reconstruction of devasted local communities and thus make very effective social contributions.
Based on this agreement, the first reconstruction project for local communities was launched in Battambang, Cambodia in May 2008. Specific plans for this project call for our demining equipment to be rented at no cost to JMAS for speedy demining, and then, the safe development of agricultural land, digging of wells, building of schools, and repair and building of roadways and bridges. In addition to lending the demining machine and construction equipment required for use in building such infrastructure, at no cost, Komatsu has agreed to pay the operating expenses of 50 million yen and transportation cost to Cambodia. Komatsu will also supply replacement parts at no cost. For our next project, Komatsu is considering a reconstruction project in Africa. Komatsu positions community reconstruction (which begins with demining) as one of its core activities in social contribution. In addition to continuing this activity, Komatsu hopes to expand its efforts to other areas by collaborating with other companies, NGOs, governments, international organizations and local people.