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Clashes continue between Henoko workers, opponents

Date Posted: 2004-12-16

Opponents of the proposed Henoko airport, which will replace the current Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, have filed a lawsuit to block construction efforts.

The local fishermen’s association and residents of the Henoko and Kushi areas have banded together to file suit with the Naha Prosecutor’s Office. “We need to protest the Japanese issues,” they say. “It’s against the law to make new bases in Okinawa.”

The suit wants construction and test drilling to stop immediately. “Boring in the ocean is destroying nature,” it contends, “and is also an invasion of fishermen’s lives. This time we want only to stop the ocean inspections, but if they don’t listen to us, we’ll fight everything out in court.”

In response, Japanese Self Defense Naha District Agency officials have locked the entrance gates to the drilling sites outside Camp Schwab. The move blocks the protestors, including Okinawa Peace Citizen’s Group member Morihide Sakihara, from entering. Hiroaki Tana, Public Affairs Section leader for the Naha District Agency says “Please make an appointment first, when you come up here (to Nago). We have other schedules, so we can’t meet you today.”

Opponents contend “you can’t lock the gates. We have the right to come to your place.” They’ve asked “are you afraid to take our letters and complaints?”

The moves come in the aftermath of two accidents at the Henoko Camp. In one instance, an woman opposing the drilling was injured when she climbed out of a boat to protest, and fell down. An investigation is under way in the case.

Another incident took place December 9th when a man fell. He’d been fighting with a construction worker, pushing and pulling each other. When he fell from the scaffolding to the water, he was injured. An investigation is also in progress in this case to determine exactly what happened, and who was at fault.

Media questioned the Naha District Agency, asking why the gates were locked. “Was it because of the opposition protests?” they asked. Public affairs officials ignored the queries for 45 minutes, then opened the gate and allowed opponents in.

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