Tokyo govt moves in as residents protest garbage dump
TOKYO - Tokyo government authorities bulldozed their way into the woods of a western suburb of Japans capital yesterday as protesters formed picket lines to oppose the expansion of a garbage dump.
Hundreds of Tokyo city and police officials acting on an order to seize the land entered the woods in the village of Hinode as some 100 local activists camped out in small shelters they had built there to try to prevent the move.
The stand-off was the latest development in an eight-year battle between garbage disposal companies and local residents who believe the dump will pollute the areas ground water.
The case is the latest in a series of protests by Japanese who have become increasingly willing in recent years to voice their anger after decades of public projects that have ignored the environment as well as local opinion.
Government officials plan to force the protesters out of the woods by an October 23 deadline, Japanese media said.
"We cannot accept the move because it will lead to environmental destruction," one representative of the protesters said as authorities announced the seizure and moved in with bulldozers and powershovels.
"Go home, Tokyo metropolitan government. Go home," the protesters shouted through loudspeakers.
The Tokyo government was acting on behalf of an association of garbage disposal companies that plans to use the land to expand an existing one expected to fill up in 2002.
Residents of Hinode began opposing the move in 1992 following reports that contaminated water was leaking from a similar garbage landfill nearby and as the waste disposal association refused to disclose data on the alleged pollution.
In 1996, the metropolitan government said there was a leak but insisted it was not at levels dangerous to the environment.
In a bid to prevent use of the area, about 2,800 residents created a natural conservation trust, purchasing parts of the land earmarked for the expansion.
But the waste disposal association sought domain over the land with a metropolitan government panel and gained ownership last March upon the panels approval.
The garbage dump handles waste from around 3.7 million people in 27 municipalities in Tokyo.
There are currently about 480 disputes over garbage dump sites in Japan, Kyodo news agency said.
Story by George Nishiyama
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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