Tokyo riot police join security at Camp Schwab; protester arrested in scuffle

Tokyo riot police join security at Camp Schwab; protester arrested in scuffle

At 6:55 a.m. on November 4, in front of Camp Schwab, riot police officers remove citizens who were protesting construction of the new base. (Photograph taken by Futoshi Hanashiro)

November 5, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo

On November 4, more than 100 riot police officers from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department joined security in front of the Camp Schwab gate as the protest against relocating Futenma Air Station’s to Henoko intensifies. It is the first time a riot police squad from outside of Okinawa has joined security at the site. The typical number of riot police officers involved in security at Camp Schwab is 100 people, but on this day, there were more than 200 officers. In a scuffle in front of the gate between residents of Nago City and riot police, one protester in his sixties kicked a riot police officer and was arrested on the spot. The protester is being charged with interfering with a public servant’s execution of their duties. The scene at the site of the scuffle was extremely chaotic. Some people who fell down in the scuffle had to be taken away in ambulances. As many as 210 people had gathered on this day to oppose construction and called out in protest, saying things such as “go back to Tokyo.”

Vehicles carrying riot police from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department entered Camp Schwab at around 6:20 a.m. More than 200 riot police members, including prefectural police officers, started trying to remove around 130 sit-in protesters at about 6:55 a.m., but were unable to completely remove them. After around 30 minutes, the riot police temporarily withdrew. During that time, one construction vehicle and several vehicles carrying construction workers entered through the gate.

At about 9 a.m. one person after another was knocked to the ground in a clash between protesters, who were lining up alongside the national highway, and the riot police squad that was trying to block the footpath. During the stand-off, 23-year-old Atsushi Nio hit the back of his head on the ground and was taken away in an ambulance. He suffered a severe neck injury and was advised to take a week of bed rest. The man in his sixties charged with interfering with the work of a public servant is denying the claim. Before being restrained, the man was using a loudspeaker to call for both citizens and riot police to bring an end to the mayhem.

It has not been confirmed whether any major construction is taking place on Oura Bay where the new base is to be built. However, construction-related works by operating heavy equipment were observed on the shore within Camp Schwab.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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