Park in SDF base is symbol of farmers' struggle for peace

A peace park with the shape of the letter "V" bends the taxiway of the Air SDF Hyakuri Base in Ibaraki Prefecture north of Tokyo, one of Japan's strategic bases.

The park of about 5,000 square meters with a "V" shape inroads into the 2,700-meter taxiway and is a thorn on the base.

It is the land local farmers have refused to sell to the Defense Agency since the end of WWII.

For the farmers, the land has a special meaning and history. Before WWII, the Imperial Navy's air corps grabbed the land cultivated by their ancestors with all their energies to cultivate. After the war's end, the land was returned to the farmers, but it was no longer good for farming because it had been hardened as the Imperial Navy's airstrips. For 10 years, the farmers indeed had hard times. In 1956, when the farmers were barely managing to harvest crops, a plan to build an SDF base emerged.

Arguing that a compulsory purchase of the 2-hector land to construct a military base is in contravention of the Constitution's Article 9, the farmers brought a case against the government for their property rights.

The Supreme Court in 1989 avoided discussing the illegality of the Self-Defense Forces and dismissed the farmers' claim. Despite repeated nuisances caused by the Defense Agency, some lots were left in the farmers' hands and became a peace park.

They are still struggling for peace. A farmer's face clouded over when he said, "Wartime legislation will allow the country to snatch our land again. If such legislation is enacted, the "V"-shape of the taxiway will be soon straightened out."

The "V" thrusting into the heart of the base is a wedge that the farmers drove in against the proposed wartime legislation. (end)