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Court orders protesters to stop blocking construction traffic

Date Posted: 2010-01-07

Fourteen demonstrators opposed to construction of a helicopter landing area in northern Okinawa have been told to stop blocking traffic at the construction site.

The Naha District Court ordered the 14 residents of Higashi Village Takae area to stop using their vehicles to block construction trucks entering and exiting the area. The court did permit the demonstrators to keep four tents as bases for their protests. The Okinawa Self Defense Forces had taken the demonstrators to court, asking that the tents and demonstrators be ordered removed.

The court ruling could have strong impact on future demonstrations against military construction sites, including the upcoming construction of the Futenma replacement facility at Henoko in the Nago City area. Even since the court’s ruling this week, two of the Higashi Village demonstrators wanted to “sit on the street and try to obstruct the construction trucks,” but the other 12 residents refused to participate, saying “we should understand their actions as they are doing things just inside the limitations, so we will respect their side, too.” The lawyer for the protesters says “this decision is never correct. It is unfair to us, because we have been acting and just following the law.”

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