Demonstrators tried to make Japan's newest airport at Narita artificially fogbound by lighting fires of old tyres on Wednesday (9 August).
Demonstrators tried to make Japan's newest airport at Narita artificially fogbound by lighting fires of old tyres on Wednesday (9 August). However, a Japanese Airlines (JAL) jumbo jet on noise-testing duties was still able to land and take of at Narita international airport, 41 miles (65 km) north of Tokyo. The 500 demonstrators, mainly students and local farmers, also yelled and shouted slogans in an attempt to give nonsense readings on the noise recording equipment. Their fires marked the end of four days of testing and protesting. It was also the latest incident in a six-year history of violence which has kept the airport closed.
Narita airport was designed in the mid-60s to handle Tokyo's international flights and relieve the pressure on the 46-year-old Haneda airport on the outskirts of Tokyo. Haneda is already being used to its safety limits, and the situation worsens the longer Narita stays closed.
SYNOPSIS: The airport was completed in 1971. But it has only seen one or two planes on test flights. The jumbo this week was landing to give a decibel count on the sound testing machine.
Noise from the chanting protesters made the sound recordist's task almost impossible.
Demonstrators kept their fires going and also took vantage points on a tower they had built. Recently, police pulled down two of their steel towers near the airport which were seriously hindering and flying.
Quickly erected barricades were another favourite with demonstrators. They provided refuge from riot police who had kept a close watch on events since the noise tests began on Sunday (7 August). But, unlike previous occasions, outright clashes between the two sides, were avoided this time. Police limited their activity to a few arrests and the quelling with riot gas of about 50 petrol-bomb throwers on Monday.
Both protesting farmers and students came under the scrutiny of the riot police.
But despite their efforts at hindrance, the jumbo was able eventually to take off. The swirling fog of smoke and the shouting had failed to stop the authorities from landing a plane and taking it out again from this ghost airport.
Perhaps this was an indication that the government is at last winning the battle to open Narita.