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Camp Schwab fence triggers local protest

Date Posted: 2011-02-11

Heavy construction equipment and crews are hard at work constructing a breast-high fence along the boundary between Camp Schwab and adjoining private beach property, raising the ire of local residents and protest groups.

Protesters are demanding the construction of the concrete wall to replace an existing barbed wire fence be stopped, but their appeals are falling on deaf ears at the Okinawa Defense Bureau. The citizen groups, including the Tida Party, want action, with Toshimasa Yamashiro calling the area a "beach of Henoko." "The ocean is a treasure of Nago citizens and Okinawa people. I cannot permit appropriation by the U.S. military and Okinawa Defense Bureau," he said.

The Okinawa Defense Bureau listened to Keito Oshiro, the group's secretary-general, argue "they cannot do the construction work without going through necessary formalities," responding that "there are not applicable domestic laws in cases of the U.S. Armed Forces doing work in their own facilities areas." Work on the fence began in late January, with completion expected in early May. Heavy sandbags were scheduled to be put into place to strengthen concrete blocks that extend into the ocean waters.

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