Camp Schwab protester on hunger strike set free from jail
NAGO, Okinawa — An anti-military activist who was arrested during a demonstration Monday at Camp Schwab’s main gate was released from prison Wednesday, ending his two-day hunger strike, according to a spokesman for Okinawa prefectural police in Nago.
Natsume Taira, 44, was arrested on a charge of obstructing government officials from performing their duties by throwing himself under a vehicle in an attempt to block an archeological survey on Camp Schwab by Nago city officials.
He was released after prosecutors deemed there was no risk of flight or destruction of evidence, police said. The case, however, remains under investigation, according to the Naha District Public Prosecutor’s Office.
But Toshio Ikemiyagi, Taira’s lawyer, said he believed the release effectively ended the case.
Protest groups staged demonstrations at the Marine base’s main gate on Sept. 15 and again on Monday. The archeological survey, to be performed by the Nago Board of Education, is a legal prerequisite for building a new military facility on Camp Schwab to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
City officials were attempting to enter Camp Schwab on Monday to determine whether digging would be necessary to conduct the survey.
On Thursday, a Nago city official in charge of the survey said the city concluded that excavation was necessary and had conveyed its decision to The Defense Facilities Administration Agency’s Naha Bureau, which had requested the survey.
The official, who asked that his name be withheld because he feared he would become a target of protest activities, said that his office soon would discuss with DFAA when and how to begin digging.