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April 2000

1970 Time Capsule Dug Up

A time capsule buried nearly 30 years ago to commemorate the World Exposition in Osaka in 1970 was unearthed in mid-March. The cylindrical container measuring 1.3-meters high and 1.0 meter in diameter was buried nine meters under the ground near Osaka Castle in January 1971. The 2,098 items placed in the capsule were chosen to show how people lived at the time of EXPO 70, which drew 64 million visitors from all over Japan and the world.

Among the items buried were a portable radio, a tape of Japanese pop tune "Blue Chateau," a household account book, food for astronauts, and a fiberscope to look inside the stomach.

Also capsulized were the seeds of grains like rice and wheat, such vegetables as tomatoes, corn, and Japanese radish, and trees like cedar and Japanese cypress. The capsule will be unsealed in mid-April, after it has had a chance to get used to fresh air for about three weeks.

For about six months after that, experts will carefully examine what change, if any, these items have undergone during the 30 years under the ground, before the capsule is sealed again and buried at the same site on November 23. The capsule will then remain underground for another 100 years before it is reopened in 2100.

A second capsule was buried at the same time but about 5 meters deeper. This will not be opened until the year 6970--5,000 years after being placed in the ground!.

"We've made incredible progress over the past 30 years," said Chuzo Kishimoto, president of Osaka University, who witnessed the retrieval of the time capsule. "We can now produce human clones, which was unthinkable back then. There's no guarantee, though, that there'll still be humans around when the second capsule is due to be opened 5,000 years from now."

Photo: The capsule is removed from the ground. It will be buried again, for 100 years, after experts check on the contents. (PANA)