AN APPEAL TO STOP USE OF THE TEMPORARY RUNWAY AT NARITA AIRPORT
A Call for Messages of Support and Solidarity
On April 18, the Japanese government will inaugurate a temporary runway at the Narita International Airport to coincide with the World Cup soccer competition, to be co-hosted by Japan and South Korea in late May. The runway has been built despite the strong protests of local residents, whose lives and livelihoods will be thoroughly disrupted by the project. We appeal to people in Japan and around the world to join us in opposing this unilateral attempt to sacrifice the welfare of local residents and acquire by intimidation prime farmland for the airport. This gross violation of democratic process and basic rights must not be allowed to pass unnoticed amid the media furor surrounding the World Cup finals.
Several years ago, following protracted negotiations with airport opponents, the government and the Narita Airport Corporation promised they would withdraw the threat of forcible expropriation as a means of acquiring farmland to complete the airport. They also pledged solemnly to consult landowners about any future plans for runway expansion and to respect their rights. Both sides agreed to abide by the principle of non-violence and seek a fair solution. In May 1999, however, the government did an abrupt about face: it announced the construction of a temporary second runway -- 300 meters shorter than originally planned -- to be completed by April 2002, in time for the World Cup series. The government hopes that the inauguration of the new airstrip will force the farmers of Toho Hamlet to sell out and move away, enabling it acquire the land it needs to build a standard-length runway there. The authorities have shown their true colors, and it's back to business as usual -- the continuation of expropriation by other means ( broken promises, deceit, intimidation).
We responded in 1999 with an appeal calling for the abandonment of the runway plan and serious consultations with those farmers directly affected. Many concerned people in Japan and abroad answered that call, sending messages of support to local inhabitants opposing the project. For the past three years, however, the government has gone ahead with the runway, and today Toho Hamlet is surrounded by high fences, barbed wire, and searchlights, and concrete has been laid almost up to the villagers' houses.
If the temporary runway becomes operational this April, residents will have to live with wide-bodied passenger jets landing almost directly overhead -- a mere 40 meters above their homes. Farmers have worked a lifetime to transform Toho into a model of successful organic agriculture and now boast a vast network of urban consumers, who buy their eggs and vegetables directly from the producers. The scream of jet engines, a poisonous carpet of jet exhaust, and violent wind shears will make vegetable growing and chicken farming precarious, rendering the area unsuitable for people, animals, or healthy crops. The government's undemocratic methods have only hardened the farmers' resolve to remain on the land, however. They are determined to contest the state's image of "progress" by proposing an alternative model of environmentally sane and sustainable local development.
The government insists that the construction of Narita Airport is in the "public interest". More than 30 years of fierce opposition by local farmers, however, has exploded that old, worn myth. The state has consistently failed to defend the urgency or public need for such a project, which sits amid one of Japan's most prosperous farm regions. The new runway, built without the consent of those who will be directly affected by it, is the latest example of this reckless, arrogant, developmentalist mentality.
We refuse to watch idly as the authorities prepare to violate the rights of yet another group of Narita farmers. We demand that the government and the Narita Airport Corporation abandon their plans to open the temporary runway. We have no illusions that stopping the new runway will be easy, or, in the short run, even possible. Our determination to say a loud, clear "NO!" is motivated by the conviction that failure to contest this injustice is the same as condoning it.
In view of the gravity of the situation:
1) We invite you to send messages of solidarity to the inhabitants of Toho Hamlet as they struggle to defend their rights and their dignity as people and producers. With your permission, we will publish the messages in the form of a pamphlet. (See NOTE 1)
2) If you agree with our statement of principle, we ask you to add your name to the list of people who endorse this petition. (See NOTE 2)
3) Finally, we ask you to write directly to the government officials responsible for implementing airport policy. (See NOTE 3)
Iyaanaga Ken'ichi (mathematician)
Oshiro Masashi (Buddhist priest, Otani Faction, Shinshu)
(Aichi Prefrecture People's Congress to Stop the Forest on the Sea Exposition)
Ono Kazuoki (journalist specializing in farm problems)
Oze Akira (cartoonist)
Kaneko Yoshinori (farmer, Ogawa Township, Saitama Prefecture)
Kamata Satoshi (writer, investigative reporter)
Kumaoka Michiya (Japan International Volunteer Center)
Koshida Kiyokazu (Asia-Pacific Resource Center)
Sato Makoto (film director)
Shitara Kiyotsugu (secretary-general, Tokyo Foremen's Union)
Shitara Yoshiko (Women's Democratic Club)
Shirakawa Masumi (People's Plan Research Group)
Takagi Kuniko (The Takagi Jinzaburo Citizen Scientist Foundation)
Tamamitsu Yorimasa (Buddhist priest, Otani Faction, Shinshu)
Nakamura Hisashi (economist)
Hayashi Hiroji (Chiba Citizens' Forum)
Fujikawa Yasushi (Chofu City organic grocer)
Fujiwara Shin (forestry expert)
Maeda Tetsuo (journalist specializing in military affairs)
Maeda Yugo (representative, Workers' Information Collective)
Mizuhara Hiroko (Japan Consumers' Federation)
Motohashi Sei'ichi (cameraman, film director)
Yamaguchi Yukio (Citizens' Nuclear Information Center)
Yamaguchi Yukiko (Association for Building a Healthy Lifestyle)
Yamaguchi Yasuko (Women's Democratic Club)
Yoshikawa Yuichi (People's Opinion-30, Tokyo)
Robert Ricketts (researcher)
Please limit your messages to 500 words, and, if possible, state your full name and affiliation. Anonymity will be respected upon request.
Please send your messages of solidarity and support by air mail, fax, telephone, or e-mail to:
The Narita Airport Emergency Appeal,
2-2-6-103 Fuda, Chofu City, Tokyo 182-0024, Japan
Please send your messages of protest to the following Japanese government officials (a model letter is included for use at your discretion):
The Honorable ________,
I am writing to protest the inauguration of a temporary runway at the Narita International Airport, scheduled for April 18.
I understand that the new runway has been built without adequately consulting those local residents who will be most directly affected by it. I also understand that by opening the runway, the government and the Narita Airport Corporation are violating their promise to find a fair and democratic solution to the airport problem, without recourse to intimidation. Finally, I understand that if the runway becomes operational, the farm community of Toho will become virtually uninhabitable because of high noise levels, pollution from jet exhaust, and wind shears.
In view of the above, the planned inauguration of the runway clearly violates the basic rights of local inhabitants. That fact that the central and local governments and the Airport Corporation are aware of these problems and yet insist on making the runway operational casts serious doubt on Japan's commitment to democratic process and elementary justice.
For these reasons, I respectfully ask that you work to suspend plans to open the temporary runway and strive to resolve the airport problem democratically, in a way that respects the rights and prerogatives of local residents.
JAPANESE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS:
1) The Honorable Akiko Doumoto（the governor of Chiba Prefecture）
2) The Honorable Tohru Nakamura（the president and CEO of Narita Airport Authority）
3) The Honorable Chikage Oogi（the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, and Transportation）
4) The Honorable Junichiro Koizumi（the Prime Minister）
IATA（International Air Transport Association）