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Farmer Ends 30 Years of Opposition to Tokyo Airport Expansion

April 30, 1996

TOKYO (AP) _ A farmer leading efforts to block Tokyo’s overcrowded main airport has decided to sell his land and move away, ending three decades of bitter protests.

Officials announced a deal Tuesday with farmer Kakichi Ogawa but said the Narita International Airport is still a long way from getting second and third runways. Other local landowners who hold most of the property needed for the expansion are still negotiating with the government.

Ogawa, 72, has agreed to sell the eight-acre lot where he once lived, but no timetable for the sale was available, said Kozo Komine, an official at the New Tokyo International Airport Authority. Ogawa did not return telephone messages Tuesday.

Ogawa, who once led a vocal four-household faction that opposed the airport, dropped his protests in January 1995 when then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama apologized on behalf of the government for planning the airport without consulting residents. In July, Ogawa dropped several lawsuits against the airport.

Narita, 42 miles east of Tokyo, opened in 1978 with only one runway for large jets. In 1994, the single runway was used to transport about 24 million travelers. It averaged one takeoff or landing every 90 seconds.

For many years, makeshift towers erected and occupied by protesters trying to interfere with landings and takeoffs were a common sight around the airport.

Hostilities peaked with the airport’s opening. Protesters threw firebombs and riot police sometimes cut down towers with protesters still on them.

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