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Residents start signature campaign demanding court rejection of government request for ejection of protesters

A residents' association in Okinawa, which is opposing the construction of U.S. military helipads, has launched a signature campaign urging the local court to reject the national government's request that the helipad opponents' sit-in be deemed illegal.

The U.S. Forces is constructing six helipads in the U.S. Northern Training Area in Okinawa, which includes the U.S. Jungle Warfare Training Center.

Since July 2007, members of the Association of Residents against the Helicopter Pad at the Takae district (with a population of about 160) in Higashi Village, adjacent to the Northern Training Area, have carried out a sit-in in front of the gate of the construction site.

In December 2008, the Naha Regional Defense Facilities Administration Bureau asked the Naha District Court to order the removal of the sit-in protesters on the grounds that they are blocking traffic.

The residents' association maintains that the national government is attempting to suppress the residents' movement in opposition to the possible destructions of their right to live in peace as well as the destruction of the rich natural environment as a result of the project.

The first court hearing on the government request will be held on January 27.

Nationwide support for the signature collection drive is being called for by the Okinawa Prefectural Liaison Council for United Action for Abrogation of the Security Treaty, the Central Action Committee for Abrogation of the Security Treaty, and the Japan Peace Committee.

- Akahata, January 8, 2009

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