Arab News Japan
TOKYO: Protesters gathered at the edge of Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture to support Takao Shito, a farmer who is facing eviction to make way for a third runway.
Shito has been cultivating his two plots of land near Narita Airport for decades but is now facing a compulsory acquisition order.
Since it was planned in the early 1960s, the airport has faced considerable opposition from locals and radical groups opposed to the construction. The initial plan was for a five-runway airport but when it opened in 1978, it had just a single runway. A second runway was opened in 2002, but also faced protests and opposition.
Despite considerable expansion of Tokyo’s other international airport at Haneda, closer to downtown Tokyo, plans are in place to build a third runway at Narita, which is 60 km from Tokyo.
On Saturday, around a hundred demonstrators sported red, blue and white helmets, echoing the protesters of the 1960s. Many of those protests turned violent and two people lost their lives.
Four days before the airport was due to open, protesters smashed their way into the control tower and wrecked the equipment there, delaying the opening by two months. On opening day, 14,000 police were needed to control the 6,000 protesters outside the airport.
Shito has consistently refused to sell his plots of land at Narita and is fighting his case in court. A ruling is expected from the Chiba High Court in March.
At his residence on another of his plots of land, where he cultivates organic vegetables, is an eviction notice. The protesters point out that COVID-19 has severely damaged the airline industry and there is little need for an additional runway at Narita.