Landowners battling plans for a second runway at New Tokyo International Airport in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, apparently forced Vice Transport Minister Masahiko Kurono on Monday to suggest scrapping the March 2001 construction deadline if the current impasse cannot be broken.

The ministry had set the self-imposed deadline to break the deadlock with the antiairport landowners over land acquisition around the Golden Week holidays in early May. Construction is expected to take about two years.

“We do not intend to hang out the white flag now because we still have about a month. But, if the current situation continues, it would be our response to give up (the target of) fiscal 2000,” Kurono told a regular press conference.

Kurono’s remark came after landowners in Narita’s Toho district decided late last week to reject discussion with the ministry and the New Tokyo International Airport Authority over the land issue. The proposed site for the second runway at Narita airport partially encroaches on the district.

Since January, ministry and airport authority officials had visited landowners in the district several times, calling for a negotiation.

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