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Japan, resistance to construction of Narita airport

Ichiyo Muto

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Eastern Asia » Japan

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics anarchism, farming, property rights

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405197953.2009.00825.x


In July 1966 the Japanese government suddenly announced plans to build a new airport at Sanrizuka, a thriving farming area 40 miles from downtown Tokyo. The decision reflected the regime's overconfidence and condescension toward workers and peasants. The government did not consult the local farmers involved, who first learned about the plan from a newspaper article. The government assumed from its previous experience of land confiscation for large industrial projects that if offered money the farmers would willingly give up their land. Instead, the move sparked a prolonged movement that challenged not only plans for the airport, but Japan's hegemonic notions of development and economic growth and the supremacy of corporate power at the expense of the people, their dignity, and their environment. The movement grew to include many facets of Japan's New Left, and created alliances and organizational models new to Japan's progressive movements. The farmers who inherited rich paddy fields from their ancestors were deeply attached to them; others who opened up fields in the postwar years with backbreaking labor felt their land was a part of them. The farmland in Sanrizuka is a very fertile area, and there was reason for farmers to fear losing their source of income. The struggle soon acquired a non-economic dimension as the Japanese state sent thousands of armed police into the hamlets ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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