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Takao Shito vs. Narita: One Man’s Lifelong Struggle to Save His Family’s Land Inside the Airport – Japan Insides

In the agricultural countryside 40 miles outdoors of Tokyo lies Narita International Airport, considered one of Japan’s largest and busiest airports. Over 100,000 vacationers cross via its gates each day, probably unaware of the airport’s contentious historical past and ongoing battle centered round one defiant farmer: 73-year-old Takao Shito.

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A Family Legacy, Disrupted by Airplanes

The Shito household has been farming the identical plot of land for practically 100 years, spanning generations from Takao’s grandfather to his father and now him. They cultivated rice, greens, and raised livestock on the idyllic farmland.

That all modified within the Sixties, when the Japanese authorities claimed the land underneath eminent area to construct a brand new worldwide airport to serve bustling Tokyo. The farmers, together with Takao’s father, protested and resisted the eviction. Land was seized, clashes broke out, and lives had been misplaced because the airport plans moved ahead.

Despite the tumult surrounding him, Takao’s household continued to lease and farm their land. But within the a long time since, Narita Airport expanded to envelop their small farm. Planes now fly straight overhead whereas Takao works within the fields, and he has to make use of underground tunnels to entry his property. Still, Takao refuses to be displaced from the land he considers rightfully his.

“It’s my life,” he mentioned. “I have no intention of ever leaving.”

A Lifelong Fight Against the Airport

When Takao’s father handed away within the Nineties, he returned to the farmstead to take up the trigger. He has been concerned in authorized battles for many years now, because the airport company tries to accumulate the remaining farmland for yet one more runway.

In 2015, he turned down a suggestion of 180 million yen (practically $1.7 million USD on the time) for the land. “I’m not interested in money, I want to continue farming,” Takao informed reporters. “I never considered leaving.”

The stalemate has pressured airport plans to vary round Takao’s steadfast presence. A runway curves across the edges of his farm as a substitute of traversing straight via it.

Over the years, protests and clashes have continued as Takao and a band of supporters refuse to give up. In February 2023, a whole bunch of riot police moved in to erect giant barricades sealing off elements of the farm.

Yet Takao, now in his 70s, persists in working the land each day. Supporters deliver him meals and provides to maintain the protest. “What’s important is to keep farming my ancestral land,” he mentioned.

The Broader Battle Over Narita Airport

Takao’s private battle represents a a lot bigger battle that has raged within the Narita space for over 50 years. The Sanrizuka-Shibayama United Opposition League towards Construction of the Narita Airport shaped within the Sixties as farmers organized to protest the airport growth.

5 households dwell inside Narita airport

The long-running dispute represents the longest social motion in trendy Japanese historical past, capturing tensions between conventional rural life and Japan’s speedy industrialization within the twentieth century.

At its peak, the protest motion mobilized over 20,000 folks. During the Seventies and 80s, clashes with police led to a number of deaths on each side. But regardless of this stiff resistance, the airport finally prevailed – apart from the small patch of earth that Takao and his ancestors have managed to cling to.

“This case of Mr. Shito has come to encapsulate the final gasps of the movement,” mentioned Dr. William Andrews, an creator who has chronicled the contentious saga. “It represents the very last concrete struggle.”

No End in Sight for the Stalemate

As Narita Airport handles ever-increasing passenger site visitors annually, the standoff grinds on. Takao continues his each day ritual of tending the fields, joined at instances by a handful of die-hard supporters.

Some in the neighborhood regard him as an obstinate holdout standing in the best way of progress. But Takao views it as upholding justice and preserving his household’s generational heritage.

Neither he nor the airport operators present any signal of backing down. The airport barricades will probably stay as a bodily image of the heated battle between Takao’s proper to his ancestral land and the airport’s have to develop.

For now, Takao stays dedicated to his protest and lifestyle. As airplanes proceed to roar overhead, this one-man demonstration carries on.

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