Long-haul fight: Farmers battle Narita airport

By Hiroshi Hiyama

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Japan needs more airports like a hole in the head!

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

Ok, consider though, that there is land all over this country that eventually will be, or currently is in, the hands of the government. There is a point where eminent domain comes into play, and while Japan DOES have the law, it is loath to use it.

But there comes a time when the needs of society out weigh the needs of the one.

This is my life: growing vegetables on this soil. They taste different," he said.

Yeah, I'll bet they do, and you probably charge an arm and a leg for them as well.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

Narita was a get rich scheme for LDP cronies. It would have made far more sense to expand the existing Haneda airport over reclaimed land as Narita is too far from central Tokyo and it would have disrupted no one. But that wouldn't have been profitable for those in the LDP old boy network.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Eminent Domain laws in Japan notoriously weak

from 2010

Article 29 of the Japanese Constitution recognizes the government’s rights of eminent domain, stating: “The right to own or to hold property is inviolable. Property rights shall be defined by law, in conformity with the public welfare. Private property may be taken for public use upon just compensation therefor.” In short, if a public-works project is determined to be for “the public welfare,” private land can be expropriated for “public use.”


1 ( +2 / -1 )

It seems that just another private airport company can't kick him out of there forever because he owns the land there. If the Narita airport is national airport or belongs to the government, the farmer would be soon kicked out though.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I remember a time before Narita Airport existed and it was so convenient that all flights came in and out of Haneda. I couldn't for the life of me understand why they insisted on making Tokyo's international airport way out in Narita. At the time, and probably still now, Narita was considered way out in the middle of nowhere. Remember, there were no super express trains out to there and hard to get to. It should've never been built.

But if I were this farmer, I'd settle for a huge handout from the government - enough to last me for the rest of my life and enough for a really nice house and a big farm in a location that I really liked (aside from Narita Airport).

15 ( +15 / -0 )

There is a great opportunity here for the national carriers to offer FREE FLIGHTS both domestic and international for the affected families.

Great PR here, surly some degree of compensation is owed the these people.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

China could have built the same scale airport in a couple of years. Private land ownership should have some limitations. Inefficient Japan under democracy will soon be caught up by China.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Sorry Old McDonarudo, but they need to extend their spare runway on the other side off the airport to handle larger equipment and use it to drastically expand domestic routes. Make a whole other domestic wing on that side of the airport.

Why the hell, after flying for 13 hours, should I have to screw around with trains for 5 more hours (or take the crappy bus to Haneda) to get to my family's home in Akita City? I should be able to make a flight connection at NRT.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Other countries routinely acquire huge amounts of land for large-scale infrastructure. It's crazy that Japan can't, despite having the legal framework.

Much of it is the attitudes of the farmers; Most farmers throughout the world would be in fantasy if offered a large cash windfall, and use the money to build a big new house elsewhere and retire early, sitting on a beach rather than laboring in a dusty field all day.

But the Japanese believe they need to work....ALL THE TIME. Otherwise they're made to feel worthless. That's why unemployment is 2%, and it's a masochistic attitude that is rigidly ahhered to.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

I admire Shito for his stoicism.

His stand against the powers that be, has shown the ordinary citizens of Japan are capable of much more when confronted by the scheming demagogues and tyrants of Govt. Inc & Corporate Inc.

But now his time has come and he needs to move on. He has made a powerful statement and gotten his adversaries to grovel.

H owever, regardless of what he says and environmental quality monitors read, there is no way his land and produce is organic. In countries with strict organic / bio-dynamic controls, regulations and labelling he'd be refused such status, I'm sure.

The burn of billions of litres of kerosene over his fields could never realize "organic" growing conditions. And the further degradation of the environmment with deafening noise, millions of cars, people etc in a relatively small zone and you get the recipe for non-organic farming.

His heart and methods may be good, but not in those surrounds.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

How is it in a country like Japan that there are really only four or five international airports, all in major regional cities? Are runways at other airports too short to accommodate 747s?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

A rather bland article that barely scratches the surface of the truly appalling history of Narita airport:

"The first land survey was conducted on October 10th, 1967, supported by 2,000 riot police. Hantai Dōmei blocked the roads and the protests turned violent. Issaku Tomura, the Christian leader of Hantai Dōmei, was beaten to the ground by police and a bloodied picture of the middle-aged man further turned people against the airport project. The later land surveys in 1968 met impassioned protests, while the first and second land expropriations in February and September 1971 have become notorious. The police deployed 5,000 officers with water cannons, cranes and more in the second operation, only to be met with such aggression on the side of the protestors that three riot police were killed in one clash."

"One student hanged himself in despair at what was happening. Another student was hit by a gas shell and killed in 1977 when the authorities moved to dismantle the protestors’ iconic steel tower used to broadcast slogans. Overall, four police lost their lives during the course of the protest movement; thousands of protestors were arrested and injured. And the airport was still not ready."

"When the full resources of a nation is set on doing something, you cannot stop it unless you have an army. The protestors were belligerent, often paramilitary, but they were no match in the end for the state. Narita, Japan’s white elephant, did eventually open in 1978, 1,600 hectares in size and with a 4,000-metre runway, though even at this late juncture there was a final stunt. In March, the gleaming, ready-to-open site was stormed by hundreds of radicals. A burning truck rammed and burst into a gate. (One of the drivers would later die from burns.)"

All that death, violence, pain, wasted lives, wasted money, wasted time just for the State to crush a few farmers and build a tiny, ugly airport miles from the city.

browny1Today 10:36 am JST

I admire Shito for his stoicism.

That's an understatement, to put it mildly.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Ahhh, Narita.... the airport that really was troubled from the very beginning.

There are so many misconceptions as to why it was proposed / built and what the options were.

While some argue that the authorities should have just expanded Haneda by reclaiming land, the decision not to do that was, at the time, entirely logical for those planning it. Reclaiming land from Tokyo Bay in deeper water has more difficult at that time. And given the jets that were being introduced at the time, the noise factor was much much higher than today. The complaints from those around Haneda were on the increase and any proposal to expand the airport, even if feasible, would have generated substantial exposure.

Beyond that, the authorities NEVER anticipated the issues that arose. This was in the heady go-go expansion days of the early/mid '60s. Keep in mind that this decision was made in the mid-'60s, on the heels of all of the construction leading up to the Olympics and the general boom mentality of the country.

The authorities made one huge mistake. They just assumed there would be no issues and that those whose land would need to be acquired would understand the need and accede for the good of the country. So, they never consulted with the landowners in advance. Big mistake. Huge.

And because this was the '60s and the left wing radicals had a great deal of power, they took full advantage of the government's "thoughtlessness" to align themselves with the farmers who felt greatly aggrieved. And that resulted in a strident, militant opposition to the airport.

Had the government done its homework upfront with the landowners, it is entirely possible that this would not have occurred and the airport could have been built far more quickly and to original plans.

And THAT would have allowed the government to put in place the rail and road links that were needed (and planned) far earlier.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

But now his time has come and he needs to move on. He has made a powerful statement and gotten his adversaries to grovel.

He has gotten no one to grovel. There is a difference. They are tolerating him, nothing more, nothing less.

How is it in a country like Japan that there are really only four or five international airports, all in major regional cities? Are runways at other airports too short to accommodate 747s?

Pray tell what major airlines uses a 747 now? There are close to 100 airports in Japan.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Ex-governor of Tokyo Ishihara was right in demanding the return of Yokota. Atsugi should also be returned to make airports closer to Tokyo. Haneda, Yokota and Atsugi become entrances to Tokyo.  Narita will be a cargo airport.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

hi should take the deal theyve given him, the law while unjust is on Narita side , hell eventually be evicted forcibly if he doesn't go by his own free will.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

While I feel sorry for the guy to some extent, this same type of stubbornness throws common sense out the window all to often & the whole of society suffers, but it seems a great many Japanese like suffering & almost compete with each other to see who has it tougher, pretty bizarre when they could make their lives easier many often choose NOT to!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

This farmer is crazy and should be evicted for:

growing contaminated food (kerozene polution)

asking for unrest

refusing common sense discussion

It reminds me of kamikaze, because that is what he is. Proud for himseif, worst parasite ever for all his country citizens.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I am surprised to see that his veg is classed as Organic with all of the jet fuel fumes, rubber from the tyres etc, especially when its so close to the airport, but at the end of the day its his land and if he want to stop their and farm it, good luck to him I say,

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Pray tell what major airlines uses a 747 now? There are close to 100 airports in Japan.

The following airlines still fly 747s:

British airways among them.

There may be over 100 airports in Japan but few can handle large jets - most are designed around the 737 type plane. I don't think that Japan needs more than 4 hub airports, as long as you can fly effectively elsewhere. Unfortunately this is still tricky with the way NRT is set up.

Luckily Incheon is also an excellent hub airport for Japan and a good alternative.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"I do organic farming with no pesticides."

No pesticides but I'd prefer not to eat vegetables grown underneath so much airplane exhaust....

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Veggies with organic jet fuel isn't sound very tasty..

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It seems all right as long as he has many clients (including restaurant owners) buy these organic vegetables from there all the time. surely clients must say his vegetables are good.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

he likes publicity all right. Let him suffer. Being stubborn is his mantra. The more you push him out, the more he will cling. Don't complain man.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"When the government does and says something, I think most people accept it or give up without questioning," he [Shito] said. "I feel the government should also be considerate of individuals who live here."

Oh dear. Here's where the perverse logic of his position fails. It seems he has forgotten that he is Japanese. Culturally little consideration if any is given to individuals. His is the classic case of one who sticks up being hammered down. Shoganai.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

How is it a 'classic' case of that? It seems the hammer keeps missing if anything.

I mean, he is physically causing an obstruction and actually is being allowed to get away with it. In many other countries, including the UK, he would have been kicked off the land a long time ago.

The Japanese government and public have been remarkably tolerant.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Compulsory Purchase at 2-3 times market value. Sorry, but these people have to be removed with force if necessary. Everywhere else in the World bar Narita and Heathrow seem to have managed it. Yes, I am well aware of the history and controversy surrounding Narita from the very beginning but enough is enough. Also, Narita will NOT become a Cargo airport. It will be and remain Japans largest INTERNATIONAL passenger airport.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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