Tensions between protesters and riot police mount over construction of U.S. Marine Corps helipads in Takae
July 12, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
At 6:00 a.m. on July 11, one night after the Upper House election ended, the Okinawa Defense Bureau re-started preparation work for construction of U.S. Marine Corps helipads in Takae, Higashi.
About 100 riot police and about 20 security guards employed by the defense bureau were mobilized in front of the main gate of the Northern Training Area, despite there being few protestors at the site initially.
The defense bureau put up barriers around an open area where residents and protestors have held meetings.
The scene subsequently became tense, with scuffles breaking out between protestors, who were trying to remove the barriers, and the riot police.
The civilians voiced anger against construction being forced the day after the Upper House election ended.
About 60 protesters gathered objected that the vacant ground is a part of prefectural road No.70, which is under the administrative control of the prefectural government, and that it is illegal for the defense bureau to set up the barriers without gaining permission from the prefectural government. They demanded the defense bureau remove the barriers after confirming that it had not submitted an application for the use of the vacant ground to the prefectural government.
They claimed the defense bureau had no authority to enclose the vacant ground, which is beyond the military area where there are signboards banning trespassing. Protestors have long had meetings and break times there without ever being told to leave.
The northern regional office of the prefectural government’s civil engineering and construction department told the Ryukyu Shimpo reporter that it is investigating whether the area where the barriers are now located is under the control of the prefectural government or not.
The defense bureau claimed that the site is located within the U.S. facilities and that it was therefore not necessary to gain permission from the prefectural government.
Higashi Village Council member Shinji Isa said, “The Abe administration takes an abnormal approach, disregarding the will of the people. We cannot allow them to do such things.”
Gentatsu Ashimine, a resident protesting against the construction of the helipads, vowed to take strong action and block the materials for the construction from being brought into the site.
(English translation T&CT)
Previous Article:Iha ambitious for abandonment of Henoko Base project upon first-time election to House of Councillors
Next Article:Editorial: Governor should declare opposition to resumption of Takae helipad construction
- Two protestors sustain injuries while opposing helipad construction in Takae
- [Extra] Riot police remove local citizens blocking construction of US military helipads in Takae
- Removal of Cold War-era US nuclear base almost complete
- Japanese government restarts construction of the Takae helipads, resulting in stand-off with residents
- Prefectural Assembly adopts resolution of protest against discriminatory remarks by riot police