The blog of Tokyo based photographer and photojournalist, Damon Coulter

Never Give Up the Fight

National Worker`s Rally in TokyoInteresting piece by Nathalie Kyoko Stucky here on Koji Kitahara, a farmer from the Chiba District of Tokyo who has been fighting against the construction of Narita Airport for more than 40 years.

The airport is of course built and operating and many people might wonder why he doesn’t accept that, take the generous compensation offered for his land and give up the fight. After all Narita’s runways and terminal buildings are a fact of life in modern Japan and there is no likelihood of them disappearing and the fields of rice and potatoes returning any time soon.

But then again the historical malfeasance of the Japanese Government and airport authorities in the appropriation of the local farmers’ lands and the intimidation and casualties, even deaths, that resulted when some resisted the airport’s construction is something that should not be forgotten and something that Kitahara San still tries to inform people about.

I have photographed him at many left-wing demos and conferences, (photo above) and always thought the struggle he represents a little bit pointless given the existence of the airport. But reading this piece , though I was not surprised to find the Government and construction companies had acted so badly and abused the farmers, I became a little more understanding of the Kitahara San’s reasons to not give up. He may never get the fields back but the intimidation of those that mourn their loss, or those that are currently resisting the same bullying expansion of the airport, continues to this day and this is worth fighting. Far from being anachronistic his struggle is the the timeless one of little, ordinary people against the power of politicians and corporations that feel they can do what they want.

A struggle that is perhaps even more valid today than 40 years ago.

Later Damon


3 responses

  1. photohumourist

    I gain such insight about Japan reading your blog. Fascinating.

    April 26, 2013 at 2:53 pm

  2. “The government had taken the land. This was part of a twisted arrangement made by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP.)” Robert Whiting, author of the best selling non-fiction book, Tokyo Underworld cites the Narita Airport debacle as one representative of Japanese corruption. According to his research, certain people linked to Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, had bought some land in Narita, and suddenly the government announced the construction of an international airport at that place. The price of the land per square meter had exploded. “Those who bought the land in that area had won a fortune. This is the twisted side of the story. And there were those farmers who didn’t want to leave their land, but they were forced to. It took ages to displace them, and even nowadays some are still struggling. Koji Kitahara is a real hero, and there aren’t any real heroes left in modern Japan,” Robert Whiting commented.

    May 18, 2013 at 9:22 pm

  3. Pingback: Radically Different | sungypsy blog

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