The United States Army today (Wednesday) removed the first shipment of deadly chemical weapons stored on the Pacific Island of Okinawa.
The United States Army today (Wednesday) removed the first shipment of deadly chemical weapons stored on the Pacific Island of Okinawa. Watched by the American High Commissioner of Okinawa, Lieutenant General Lampert, and the Chief Executive of the Ryukyu Government, the gas was moved in a smooth operation marred only by a minor skirmish before its departure with left-wing demonstrators at the main American airbase.
Carrying 75 tons of mustard gas packed in artillery shells, the convoy travelled through several villages from which thousands of residents had been evacuated in the early morning because of fears of being poisoned.
Left-wing threats to stop the convoy en route by force failed to materialise in the face of overwhelming army and police reinforcements along the route.
The convoy passed through streets lined with police, government officials and newsmen but few bystanders. To demonstrate confidence in the operation's safety, the American High Commissioner, General Lampert, stood in the main street of one village without a gas mask as the convoy passed through. Mr Yara, also without a gasmask, travelled in the convoy itself.
During the previous night, several hundred students attempted to sage rallies outside two American bases in the area but they were heavily outnumbered by police and were forced to surrender their helmets and bamboo clubs.
While the first convoy moved towards Tengan port from where it will be shipped to Johnston Island southwest of Hawaii a second shipment was being readied to travel the same route later today.
Roads were sealed and Okinawans warned to stay clear. The convoy was accompanied by a de-contamination squad, an ambulance and fire engines. It arrived safely at Tengan pier without incident.