|U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma|
NAHA -- In the first hearing of the trial of anti-U.S. military base activists here on March 17, a leader of the movement acknowledged that he cut barbed wire that had been installed onto the fence of a U.S. military base, but denied the other charges brought against him -- forcible obstruction of business, as well as obstruction of government officials' duties and causing bodily injury.
The hearing for Hiroji Yamashiro, the 64-year-old leader of Okinawa Heiwa Undo Center (Okinawa peace movement center), and two other men was held at the Naha District Court and was presided over by judge Jiro Shiomi.
Yamashiro is accused of stacking concrete blocks in front of the gate of U.S. Marine Corps' Camp Schwab in the Henoko district of the northern Okinawa Prefecture city of Nago, to prevent construction vehicles from entering the base. Camp Schwab stands along the site where the Japanese government is set to build a replacement base for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which is currently in the southern prefectural city of Ginowan. Yamashiro argued that his actions were a valid form of protest and expression, and denied the charge of forcible obstruction of business.
As for the charge that he injured an official from the Defense Ministry's Okinawa Defense Bureau, thereby obstructing government officials' duties and causing bodily harm, Yamashiro stated, "The official's actions were lacking the nature of valid official duty, and I was merely trying to stop them. I did not do anything to cause bodily injury."
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