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4 activists protesting U.S. base relocation in Okinawa arrested

NAHA -- Prefectural police arrested four activists protesting a U.S. base relocation and raided several locations linked to them on Nov. 29, alleging that they obstructed construction work for the transfer of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to the Henoko district of Nago in Okinawa Prefecture.

Hiroji Yamashiro, 64, chairman of the Okinawa Peace Action Center, from the city of Okinawa, and three others stand accused of forcible obstruction of business for piling up large volumes of concrete blocks in front of the U.S. military's Camp Schwab near the relocation site.

Okinawa Prefectural Police raided the office of the Okinawa Peace Action Center in Naha and other locations, including tents in front of the Camp Schwab gate that are serving as a base for anti-relocation protesters.

Yamashiro has led the anti-relocation movement and has been arrested and indicted in connection with protests to the construction of U.S. military helipads in the Takae district of the Okinawa Prefecture village of Higashi on suspicion of damage to property and inflicting injury.

The other three under arrest are Hiroshi Inaba, 66, from the village of Ginoza, Takemasa Kinjo, 59, from Nago, and Kobun Sasaki, 40, also from Nago. The three, whose occupations are unknown, are accused of piling up about 1,400 concrete blocks to a maximum height of 2 meters and up to 5 meters wide in front of the Camp Schwab gate between Jan. 28 and 30 to thwart the construction work.

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