A group of labor unions for media in Okinawa Prefecture issued a statement of protest after two local newspaper reporters were forcibly removed by riot police while covering protests last week near a helipad construction site in a U.S. military training area.

The act is "intolerable" as it "infringes upon the foundation of freedom of press," the group said Tuesday following the removal of reporters for the Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times from where the Defense Ministry is constructing a helipad in the Northern Training Area, a U.S. Marine Corps training site.

"Freedom of press is ensured under the Constitution," and the media will reject and confront those in power if they threaten that freedom, the statement said.

The Okinawa police said they did not intend to restrict reporting, explaining they removed the reporters as they were hard to distinguish from protesters.

Demonstrators have been gathering at the site for days to protest construction of the helipad, prompting the police to gather squads from nationwide.