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YOKOHAMA, Japan – A fisherman seeking suspension of dredging at Yokosuka Naval Base testified Monday that the work may contaminate his fishing grounds and prevent him from selling his catch.

As one of 10 plaintiffs, Tetsuya Komatsubara told Yokohama District Court that his income mainly comes from selling shellfish he catches near the base.

“Even (if) only a little (contamination) was detected, I won’t be able to sell them,” he said. “This is a matter of life and death. My family may end up on the streets.”

Dredging is needed to berth the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which is to replace the conventionally-powered USS Kitty Hawk next summer.

Plaintiffs claim the city, which is the port manager, should not have allowed the Japanese government to dredge 600,000 cubic meters of sediment from Piedmont Pier because it may cause environmental deterioration.

Komatsubara also said he is concerned about the presence of a nuclear carrier.

“Even 60 years later, people are still suffering from atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” he said. “There is no 100 percent (safety).”

City officials have testified that the procedure they took in developing the project complied with the law.

Commander Naval Forces Japan spokesman Jon Nylander declined to comment on Monday’s session.

“The dredging case is a matter in the Japanese Courts,” he said. “It’s not our place to comment. The case is between Japanese citizens and the city of Yokosuka.”

The next hearing is to be held on Nov. 28.

In a separate legal action, a hearing is ongoing for a group of 600 people also seeking suspension of the dredging. In the meantime, residents are seeking a temporary court injunction to halt the work.

author picture
Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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