The Japanese Government has postponed once more the official opening of Tokyo's new international airport at Narita.
The Japanese Government has postponed once more the official opening of Tokyo's new international airport at Narita. The decision to delay Thursday's opening (March 30) follows the attack at the weekend by demonstrators who used sledgehammers to smash vital air traffic control equipment. The protests began 12 years ago, when the government decided to plough up farmland to build the airport. It is designed to ease congestion at Tokyo's Haneda airport. Leftwing demonstrators supporting local farmers have succeeded in delaying the opening more than ten times since 1971.
SYNOPSIS: After successfully evicting demonstrators from the Narita control tower lat Sunday (26 March), the police turned their attention to this three-storey concrete bunker and tower built by protestors near one of the runways. On Sunday night, a number of demonstrators were inside what they hoped was and impregnable fortress. But on Monday morning (27 March), more than 1,000 police fought their way inside amidst exchanges of tear gas, firebombs and hoses. It was typical of several pitched battles between police and protestors, in which more than 8,000 people have been injured and five killed.
The police sliced into the sides of the reinforced concrete structures with cutting torches but most of the demonstrators escaped through a secret underground tunnel, and only 10 were caught. Four tried to climb the 60-foot (18 metre) tower but were captured.
The protestors had succeeded in achieving their aim, however, with their earlier invasion of the control tower. This devastation is all that remains of the airport's highly-sophisticated electronic flying aids. Six commandos held out here for two hours after breaching the security ring by crawling through a sewer.
The decision to delay the Narita opening yet again was announced by Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda on Tuesday (28 March), after a Cabinet meeting. No new date has been set, but government sources said the delay could be about one month. Mr. Fukuda described the postponement as "most regrettable." An official statement later said the government was determined to strengthen the airport's security arrangements.