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Higashi Village still battling SDF on planned U.S. helipad construction

Date Posted: 2009-08-06

More than two years after beginning a series of protests and sit down strikes, Higashi Village residents are still waging the battle to block the Self Defense Force Okinawa Branch from building a new helicopter pad for use by American troops.

Residents of the Takae area, backed by protesters traveling from mainland Japan, have successfully blocked construction work. Lawyers this week briefing the residents, along with 200 others from outside the Higashi Village area, explained the Self Defense Force Okinawa Branch has asked the court to take render a provisional disposition. That action, attorneys for the residents say, “is damaging the residents life and are outside the method of fair means.”

Attorneys contend the Self Defense Forces are essentially taking the residents to court without discussing it with people. The court judge is to visit the Takae area today to see firsthand the proposed helicopter landing site. If it happens, a lawyer says, “it will be a very key point now.”

A local resident opposing the helipad says “the two years sit down strike has been long and short.” Shinji Isa say, though, “we can still continue if we get support from areas both inside and outside of Okinawa. We will not lose in the court, and we’ll fight with them until we win.”

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