[Extra] Riot police remove local citizens blocking construction of US military helipads in Takae

July 22, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo online edition

On July 22 at about 6 a.m., the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) announced that new helipad construction work at the Northern Training Area, which is located in Higashi Village and Kunigami Village, had begun. Materials and vehicles to be used to start construction had already been moved to the area surrounding the planned construction site.

The planned site for new helipad construction falls into three zones of the Northern Training Area. Twenty construction vehicles or more entered through the H and G zone gates successively, on roads blocked by officials of the ODB. Three such vehicles also approached the gate behind the N1 zone and unloaded iron plates, metal pipes, and other materials in front of the gate.

Starting a bit past 2 a.m., about sixty sit-in protesters spread out on Prefectural Route 70 to the north and south of the N1 zone gate respectively. In the neighborhood of the N1 zone gate, citizens parked about 100 cars along the right and left sides of the prefectural route. Dozens of cars were parked in the center of the highway, effectively blocking the road.

After 3 a.m. on the grounds of Aha Dam in Aha, Kunigami Village, thirty or more riot police vehicles and about twenty ODB cars arrived and waited there. In several places about twenty riot police officers gathered and spoke with diagrams in-hand.

Prefectural riot police officers took position in large numbers on the Higashi Village and Kunigami Village sides of the N1 zone gate starting at about 5:00 in the morning.

At around 5:30 a.m., dozens of riot police officers got out of their vehicles and entered the N1 zone gate from the north. The riot police scuffled with sit-in protesters. They began removing citizens’ vehicles parked in front of the N1 zone gate at 6:42 in the morning.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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