In Japan on Sunday (3 April), riot police outnumbered demonstrators two-to-one at Tokyo's new international airport as anti-airport forces opened a new campaign in their fight to block its opening.
In Japan on Sunday (3 April), riot police outnumbered demonstrators two-to-one at Tokyo's new international airport as anti-airport forces opened a new campaign in their fight to block its opening. The demonstrators attended a mass rally near the airport, and then some marched through the streets to taunt police guarding the airport, which was the scene of heavy fighting last week.
SYNOPSIS: The rally in a park a few kilometres from Narita airport was to celebrate the Government's decision to postpone the official opening, scheduled for last week.
The decision, which followed pitched battles between demonstrators and police, was announced by Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda, who described the postponement as "most regrettable". Since protests about the building of the airport began 12 years ago, the opening has been held back ten times.
Originally it was farmers, who had lost land to the airport, who opposed its opening. But now, left-wing radicals have joined the fight.
After the rally, the radicals organised a march on the airport. They are using Narita to focus attention on their stand against government policies. According to observers, they are hoping to win some of the support the Japanese public has given the farmers.
Waiting to greet the demonstrators when they arrived were 15,000 riot police, about twice the number of protestors who had attended the earlier rally.
There was, however, no repetition of last week's clashes, when demonstrators managed to breach security and wreck the airport's control tower. This time, protestors confined themselves to taunting police.
There are worries that future confrontations between police and protestors could bring casualties. The National Police Agency, disturbed at its lack of success in containing the demonstrators, has ordered a new study into ways of improving security at the airport.
The study will decide whether policemen should be allowed to use firearms. Until now, police have generally restricted themselves to using tear gas, water cannon and clubs