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Kin Town preparing ultimatum For U.S., Japanese governments

Date Posted: 2005-07-02

The controversial US military training range at Camp Hansen is open for business, and local townspeople are downright angry.

Range 4 officially opened Monday, with American notification to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. MOFA and the Japan Self Defense Agency are blessing the range use, calling it ‘safe’.

Kin Town and Igei area residents are lodging protests, telling the governments “We are against American military use of the facility even on a temporary basis.” They say they’ll change their pro-American views if the range operations move forward, and will make demands all U.S. military forces be immediately moved off Okinawa. “If Americans do training without listening to our voices”, a Kin Assembly member said, “we are going to protest and request that all bases be immediately closed and returned to us.”

The facility was completed in early June, and testing has been ongoing, with local residents standing nearby watching. “It’s a dangerous facility”, one Igei resident says. “They might have an accident that could hurt us. We don’t want Americans to use the facility.” About 150 local residents gathered around the military fenceline 150 meters from the range, watching officials put the facility through its paces.

Army Special Forces troops posted at Torii Station are first slated to use the range facility, which military leaders are calling a “temporary range” to be used only until Range 16 is complete. Range 4 is to be used for urban combat in cities training. Officials say the military may use live ammunition in some training scenarios.

Kin Town mayor Tsuyoshi Gibu is demanding the Japanese government “stop this training!” Local Japanese officials and American military leaders say the training will go on, but only as small unit training exercises.

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