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Verbal sparring, accusations continue in diver incident

Date Posted: 2007-07-25

Anti-base activist Hiroshi Ashitomi is accusing a Naha Self Defense Force diver of turning off his air tank as he protested their underwater work at Henoko, site of the planned Futenma replacement airfield.

A Self Defense Force official denies the incident ever happened, saying “No such thing happened. Our divers had very important work under water, and wanted to make repairs of damage caused by a typhoon. The diver reported to us everything he did underwater,” the spokesman said, “and according to his report, he did not close your diver’s tank. We believe our diver.”

“You did!” That’s Ashitomi’s response. The Self Defense Force has asked Ashitomi to produce evidence the incident happened. “Please show us real evidence, and then we can start talking,” the official said. “Right now, it’s not even a matter of talk before you bring evidence.” Shortly after last week’s incident, the opposition claimed it had a video showing the Self Defense Force diver turning off the valve to Ashitomi’s air tank, but that video’s not been mentioned since.

More than 30 protesters have met with the Self Defense Force since, and none has spoken about the video or the incident. They say they are simply trying to get people to listen to them, about their concerns. The Self Defense Force has agreed to another meeting Friday to discuss the problem.

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