Demonstrators protest Atsugi noise
December 26, 2003
ATSUGI NAVAL AIR FACILITY, Japan — Forty-five demonstrators lined up outside the main gate Tuesday to protest Atsugi Naval Air Facility aircraft noise and the war in Iraq.
Protesters demonstrated peacefully from 2:20 p.m. to 3:25 p.m., said base spokesman Brian Naranjo. “They had some signs, some slogans in Japanese,” he said. “They were chanting in Japanese.”
Naranjo said the protest was scheduled, peaceful and included the presentation of a letter to a base official. He said the letter’s contents were not immediately available, but it would be routed to Capt. Reed Eckstrom, the base commander.
Naranjo said the base supports the right of Japanese nationals to protest peacefully off-base. “We support their right to assemble,” he said, adding that the base is the focus of protests “from time to time. We’ve never had any problems with them getting out of hand.”
Tuesday’s demonstration comes more than a month after the Conference on Measures against Noise from Atsugi Base was held in Tokyo. During that gathering, Japanese officials wrote asking U.S. military officials to reduce Atsugi aircraft noise. The letter was submitted to the U.S. Embassy Nov. 19.
Conference members included the Kanagawa governor and mayors and city assemblymen representing communities surrounding Atsugi. They said they have been monitoring noise levels around the military base for years, especially noise associated with night landing practice for combat jets.
Air Force Col. Victor Warzinski, U.S. Forces Japan spokesman, has said the U.S. military regards noise-abatement concerns seriously and has taken numerous steps to reduce noise, including increasing flight altitudes and restricting afterburner use and flights from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.