Hansen project start date draws new protests
January 17, 2004
NAHA, Okinawa — Okinawa officials renewed protests Wednesday over construction of a $3.8 million U.S. Army Special Forces training complex on Camp Hansen.
The protests were sparked by an announcement that construction on Camp Hansen’s Range 4 will start by the end of the month. The project would replace an aging training facility on Range 16 and combine drills currently being conducted on Camps Schwab and Hansen by the Army’s 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group based at Torii Station, U.S. officials said.
On Wednesday, the mayor of the town adjacent to Camp Hansen said he will discuss the issue with residents and consider what action can be taken against the construction.
Kin Mayor Tsuyoshi Gibu has been a vocal opponent of the new training complex, even though U.S. officials assured him activity there would be designed to minimize impact on nearby residents.
The measures include a soundproof wall and the use of a special absorbent material inside a building to prevent stray shots.
Training hours will be scheduled to avoid early-morning and late-night hours, U.S. officials said in November.
Okinawa Gov. Keiichi Inamine also has expressed concerns about the construction, saying he fears it will “contribute to the perpetration of the U.S. bases” and further “burden” the people of Okinawa.
In November, U.S. and Japanese officials confirmed that the U.S. Defense Department was funding construction of the facility, which will include a “shoot house,” breaching bay, 50-meter flat shooting range, rappelling tower and administrative area.
The area will be used mainly by Special Forces, but other U.S. forces may also train there.