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Underwater attack pits activist against JSDF diver

Date Posted: 2007-07-22

An anti-base activist opposed to building a new U.S. airfield at Henoko took his protest to a physical violence level Saturday, physically trying to block a military diver from doing his job.
The Self Defense Force divers were inspecting underwater sonar equipment and repairing damages to moorings caused by Typhoon Man-Yi. Natsume Taira, leader of the Peace Liaison Network, approached the divers and began disrupting their work re-securing the sonar units. Taira and other activists have learned scuba diving in order to take their protests beneath the water, where they could watch JSDF divers.
The three divers report that they first ignored Taira as he interfered with their work. During the scuffle that ensued, anti-base divers claim one of the JSDF divers turned off the oxygen valve on Taira’s scuba air tank, and he was forced to to return to the surface.
Taira, whose encounter with the divers was documented by another underwater anti-base activist with a camera, now charges the diver tried to kill him. He is threatening a lawsuit against the JSDF, claiming the divers’ action prevented him from breathing. “I am going to contact my lawyer,” he says, “and see if we can take this to court.”

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