Tired of enduring endless noise from the U.S. Futenma military airbase, 25 members of a group seeking damages visited Tokyo to make their voices heard following last week’s high court ruling on their noise pollution lawsuit. While the court increased compensation, it failed to authorize the stopping of nighttime flights.
“While the verdict does represent a measure of progress, the Japanese government’s hands are tied in terms of further action on the issue due to the constraints of the U.S.-Japan relationship, which limits what the Japanese side may demand from the U.S. military,” delegation member Takahashi Toshio told me during Tuesday's sit-in, held in sweltering afternoon summer heat.
“In European countries such as Germany and Italy, the U.S. military must adhere to local laws with regard to issues such as noise pollution; but this is not the case here because of the completely unequal relationship between Japan and the United States. We will continue to speak out regarding this issue, and push for a fairer standing between the two countries,” Takahashi explained.
The delegation plans to travel to Korea in the near future to meet with grassroots activists working on similar issues, and is also planning a trip to Washington D.C. to make members’concerns known directly to the U.S. government.
Flyer reading “Get rid of helicopter landings and illegal deafening noise from Futenma, the world’s most dangerous base!”
Nakashima Daichi, a high school student at the Jiyuu no mori gakuen (“Freedom Forest” High School) in Saitama prefecture, who gave a speech and circulated a petition calling for the Futenma airbase to be closed down
Sit-in participants, including lawsuit plaintiff member Takahashi Toshio (far right), and Uehara Seishin (front center), an Okinawan resident of Tokyo who was interviewed during a previous Diet sit-in