Local residents opposing the expansion of a garbage landfill in Hinode, western Tokyo, left the site Wednesday following a nearly two-day standoff with officials of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
A group of about 30 people initially continued the protest, claiming Tokyo’s attempt to seize the land was illegal, but they left the site by 3:15 p.m.
The procedure to expropriate the land began shortly after 12:30 p.m. when Tsuyoshi Hashimoto, the metropolitan government official in charge of the operation, declared the beginning of procedures. About 120 officials and security guards dismantled fences set up by the protesters and entered the site.
The protesters, who fended off the officials all day on Tuesday, attempted to negotiate by handing Hashimoto a document that said seizure of the land could not be permitted because an application for an injunction against it is still being deliberated in court.
But Hashimoto returned to the fence again an hour later along with 30 other metropolitan officials and repeatedly told the protesters: “We are in the position to undertake procedures under the law. We ask that you immediately vacate.”
The metropolitan government wants to dismantle all facilities the protesters have erected on the site by Oct. 23, including a makeshift tower, according to officials.
Three of the protesters passed through the fence and tried to talk with the officials, but the officials soon walked away.
By 3:10 p.m. all the demonstrators had vacated the disputed plot with no reports of injuries or major trouble, according to metropolitan government officials.
The metropolitan government began its move to confiscate the 460 sq. meters of land Tuesday but was forced to give up when the protesters prevented them from taking down their inner fence. The operation was on behalf of the Tokyo Saitama Area Regional Association of Waste Disposal, which claims to own the land.
The residents of the land bought and occupied it after polluted groundwater was detected at a neighboring landfill, but ownership was forcibly transferred to the waste disposal association in March after a metropolitan government panel ruled in favor of the group last year.
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