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Workers, protesters scuffle as Henoko work continues

Date Posted: 2004-12-02

Drilling site workers and demonstrators opposed to construction of a new airport at Henoko, near Nago City, clashed and fought this week.

The Coast Guard had to step in an warn both sides to stop the fighting.

Both the Naha DFAA and DFAB offices are under attack from opponents, who want the work stopped immediately. DFAB Director General Masanori Nishi says work will go forward, despite a new opposition document received from Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine. Mishi acknowledged the governor’s assessment, but says there are procedures in place to deal with environmental issues.

Inamine sent the DFAB a 40-point letter pertaining to the Futenma Relocation Project. He questions the procedures and methods being used by the DFAB. DFAB says it plans to complete the environmental surveys within three years.

Henoko opponents, meanwhile, are angry with the Governor for not demanding the project stop. Inamine, while not pleased with procedural issues, has not issued a call for the replacement airfield project to stop.

The fighting occurred Monday over two platforms being built in the shallow waters where 63 drilling tests will take place in coming months. Ten workers bringing supplies to the over-water platform fought with six opponents who wanted to prevent them from doing their jobs.

One other protest began Monday.

A 64-year-old Naha woman, Yoko Yamaguchi, began a sit-in at the Tomarin Building in downtown Naha. The DFAB offices are located in the building adjacent to Tomari Port. She is demanding the project stop, and vows to continue her protest as long as she’s physically able.

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