• Kyodo

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Demolition work began Monday on a landmark “fortress” erected a quarter century ago by opponents of the construction of Narita airport in Chiba Prefecture.

The reinforced concrete structure, which features three stories above ground level and one basement floor, stands in the town of Shibayama, south of Narita airport, overlooking the airport’s terminal buildings.

After it was built, it symbolized the furious opposition of a coalition of local residents and radical students toward the construction of New Tokyo International Airport.

The airport opened in May 1978, nearly 12 years after winning government approval.

Farmer Hiroshi Sannomiya, 49, a former airport opponent who owns the plot on which the building was erected, agreed earlier this year to sell the land to the airport authority.

Sannomiya decided to clear the land before the sale. Demolition work is scheduled to be completed Wednesday.

For security reasons, the airport authority did not issue any announcements pertaining to the demolition work beforehand. No disruptions were reported at the site Monday.

In February 1978, riot police tried to destroy a steel tower built on top of the fortress, having deemed it an obstruction to the airport’s operations. Opponents mounted the structure, however, and occupied it for almost two days.

On March 26 the same year, some opponents sneaked into the air traffic control tower just four days before the scheduled opening of the airport and destroyed various equipment. The opening was delayed until May 20, 1978.

The fortress was later condemned under a law instituted to suppress “subversive” acts by radicals.

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