• Kyodo


Demolition of the “Elephant Cage” listening post, a vacated U.S. military facility in the village of Yomitan, Okinawa, began Thursday with heavy equipment destroying some of its key components, including 28-meter-tall towers and old antennas.

The 53-hectare Sobe Communications Site, which intercepted communications between aircraft and ships, was returned to Japan last year.

The dismantling will be completed in late June and the site will be handed over to landowners with no structures remaining, according to the Naha Defense Facilities Administration Bureau.

The demolition crew used heavy equipment to decimate the 30 high-rise towers that bordered the circular, 200-meter-diameter site, and pulled down the antennas on top of them.

“The government shamelessly deprived individuals of their land. But finally we’ve got a result,” said local peace activist Shoichi Chibana, 59, one of the landowners who had struggled to win back the site.

The facility drew nationwide attention in 1995 when then Okinawa Gov. Masahide Ota refused to renew the expropriation order for Chibana’s land on the central government’s behalf, resulting in the state’s illegal use of the land for one year from April 1996.

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