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NAHA, Okinawa — About 1,000 people gathered here Sunday to protest the construction of a U.S. Army urban warfare training complex within the Marines’ Camp Hansen on northern Okinawa.

Among the demonstrators were residents of the Igei district of Kin, where Camp Hansen is located. During a speech, district chief Masafumi Ikehara said he is opposed to building the new facility because it is just 328 yards from a residential area.

“In the past, there have been accidents involving stray shots and brush fires, so we live in terror and great anxiety,” he said.

Construction of the $3.8 million facility began in June and is to be completed in April. Army officials say it is designed to replace an older training complex at another site on Camp Hansen and will combine training now being conducted by the Army’s 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group on Camps Hansen and Schwab.

The Special Forces Group is based at Torii Station, where space is limited.

Last November, U.S. and Japanese officials confirmed that the U.S. Defense Department was funding construction of the facility, which is to include a “shoot house,” a breaching bay, a 50-meter flat shooting range, a rappelling tower and an administrative area.

U.S. officials have said the complex is designed to minimize impact on its neighbors, with such measures as soundproof walls and the use of a special absorbent material inside a building to prevent stray shots. Also, they have said, training hours would be scheduled to avoid early-morning and late-night hours.


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