Friday, July 30, 2010

NHK: Court orders compensation for victims of Futenma base noise pollution; states Japan lacks law limiting US military activity

From NHK yesterday: "Court orders compensation for US base noise".
A high court in Japan has ordered the government to pay about 4.2 million dollars in damages to residents for being exposed to noise from a nearby US air base.

The amount is 2.5 times that ordered by a lower court.

About 400 people living near the US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City in the southern prefecture of Okinawa had demanded a ban on night-time flights and compensation.

Both the residents and the state had appealed against a lower court ruling that ordered the state to compensate all the plaintiffs but did not grant a ban on flights.

On Thursday, the presiding judge at the Fukuoka High Court's branch in Okinawa ruled that the residents have suffered mental pain from the noise that has disturbed their sleep, conversation and TV watching.

The judge added that the damage is too severe for the residents to endure, and that low-frequency noise made by helicopters and propeller planes is making the damage even worse.

He ordered an increase in compensation, citing the government's failure to take radical measures against noise, even though the residents' suffering has increased since a US Marine helicopter crashed inside a nearby university campus 6 years ago. He added that a limitation on flights after 10 PM, based on an anti-noise agreement, has not been observed.

But he upheld the lower court ruling that dismissed the plaintiffs' claim for a suspension of night-time flights, saying that Japan has no law that can limit the activities of US forces.

In similar noise pollution lawsuits filed across the country, Japan's courts have ordered state compensation but not bans on flights from US and Japan's Self-Defense Forces bases.

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