Thousands of riot police and demonstrators clashed on Sunday (26 March) at the start of a week of protests planned to lead up to the long-delayed opening of Japan's new international airport at Narita.
Thousands of riot police and demonstrators clashed on Sunday (26 March) at the start of a week of protests planned to lead up to the long-delayed opening of Japan's new international airport at Narita. The opening has already been put off 10 times -- it is now due to open on March the 30th -- and 12 years of bitter clashes have claimed five lives, while 8,000 policemen and demonstrators have been injured.
SYNOPSIS: Thirteen thousand police were mobilised to combat the demonstrators, mainly left-wingers who've been backing farmers who have lost their land to the new airport complex. Hurling petrol bombs, one truckload of demonstrators battled their way through the police cordon and into the airport.
In savage fighting, scores of people were injured. Riot-equipped police battled with demonstrators in some of the bloodiest hand-to-hand fighting....and water cannon were called in.
At one stage police fired over the heads of the demonstrators... and later, one was found to have a pistol wound in his leg.
Six of the protesters managed to get onto the top of the airport's control tower...and they smashed their way inside.
Once inside, they began breaking up navigation and airport guidance systems. Experts were later checking to see if they'd cause enough damage to force yet another delay in opening Narita.
Five airport officials were winched to safety by a helicopter.
Finally, riot police stormed the occupied tower and battered their way inside...but even then they ran into unexpected problems when a tear-gas canister bounced back among them.
Amid a cloud of tear gas, police finally regained control of the tower....but not without more savage fighting.
The six protesters who'd taken over the tower were finally arrested and let away. About another hundred arrests were made by police.