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Kin residents fuming as Army begins range construction

Date Posted: 2008-03-13

Construction is under way at Camp Hansen on a new firing range for American Special Forces soldiers, despite protests from nearby Kin Town.

Formal notification to the Japanese Self Defense Ministry was done by the U.S. Army last weekend, and construction of the new range facility at Camp Hansen’s Range 3 has begun. The new range construction angers the Kin Town mayor because it is one kilometer from an Igei residential area, and lies only 500 meters from the Okinawa Expressway.

Tsuyoshi Gibu says “Local area residents and the Kin Town Assembly membes have been protesting building an Army facility near here, and we approved a resolution demanding the construction be stopped.” Igei area’s ward chief is angry as well, arguing “we already have a problem because the practice has caused forest fires on the mountain, and there is noise damage.” Masafumi Ikehara insists “We don’t need more damages, thank you. It is too much for us.” Kin Town residents and community leaders say they’ll discuss the problem and how to react to the construction decision.

Further adding to Kin Town’s misery is the Army announcement another Green Beret facility will be built on Range 4, also inside Camp Hansen. The Range 4 project calls for building a 14-meters-high, three-story building to house a practice and qualification range using targets 100~1,200 meters away. The U.S. Army says it is footing the entire $7.2 million construction project.

Yoshimasa Matsuda, the Chairman of the Kin Town Assembly, says “Nobody is giving us clear answers about reducing the Marine Corps. The Range 4 facility should be moved away from here, but it is still here.” He is demanding answers on why “the Japanese government and the American military doesn’t do anything about moving away, or doing something for residents.” He says both governments should be “thinking about local people and show consideration for the residents.”

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