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New Hansen Elephant Cage faces opposition

Date Posted: 2002-05-28

Construction for the replacement for the Sobe Telecommunications Facility, popularly know as the "Elephant Cage," near Torii Station in Yomitan, is scheduled to begin shortly within Camp Hansen in Kin Town. The Kin Town mayor gave his approval for the construction several months ago.

However, now some residents in near-by Kise that is part of Onna Village have expressed their opposition to the facility that they claim could pose a health hazard. Residents held meetings on the matter Monday and Tuesday, and have sent a petition to the Self Defense Facilities Administration Agency in Naha City, demanding a halt to the construction until their concerns have been addressed. The agency officials rejected the demand on grounds that as all parties concerned had already agreed to the project it is impossible to change plans at this late stage.

A delegation of three Kise resident also visited Kin Town Mayor"s Office to declare their concerns. They claimed that there were no guarantees that electromagnetic radiation from the facility would not cause health problems. "There may also be environmental problems because of the construction work, and having a new military facility will affect our children"s education," one of the delegates declared. They then demanded the mayor to stop the construction.

In his answer, Kin Mayor Tsuyoshi Gima stated, "Of course the residents health is foremost in my mind. But this project has been in the plans long time, and the town assembly and all other concerned parties agreed to it, so it would be very difficult to stop the construction work at this stage. However, I have to contact the Self Defense Facilities Administration Agency and ask them to present the facts concerning possible health hazards or their absence. The agency should explain their project to residents so everyone can clearly understand the facts."

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