Japanese protest near Hardy Barracks for return of land
TOKYO — More than 50 protesters marched in front of the U.S. Army’s Hardy Barracks on Friday evening to demand a return of some of the compound’s land.
Protesters have sought to close the entire compound — which houses Hardy Barracks, Stars and Stripes’ Tokyo offices and printing press, a small Navy Exchange and a helipad — since the late 1960s. But for the last 11 years, they’ve focused on a 4,300-meter plot of land near the helipad they claim should have been returned to Japan after construction finished on a nearby tunnel.
“They broke the promise. We just want them to keep the promise,” said Satoru Kawasaki, a protest organizer. He added that the U.S. forces, Japanese government and Tokyo Metropolitan Government agreed to return the land — originally part of an adjacent park.
However, their ultimate goal is the compound’s removal, mainly because of noise and vibrations from landing helicopters.
Protesters marched in front of the compound, shouting, “U.S. forces return the Aoyama Park as promised” and “U.S. forces leave Japan.”
Maj. John Amberg, a U.S. Army Japan spokesman, said it was encouraging to see free citizens in a free country exercise their right to assembly in accordance with their laws.