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Ginowan residents gain partial Futenma victory

Date Posted: 2010-08-05

A lawsuit by 387 Ginowan City residents protesting the noise pollution caused by flight operations at Futenma Marine Corps Air Station has been approved—in part—by the Fukuoka High Court’s Naha branch.

The high court agrees that the residents suffered noise damages and ordered the Japan government to pay them ¥369 million, a far higher amount than the lower court’s award of ¥146 million. The high court concurred that the plaintiffs endured low-frequency sounds from American military helicopters, leading presiding judge Yoshinori Kawabe to declare the central government’s noise reduction efforts are not sufficient.

What the high court did not do, to the dismay of the plaintiffs, was order a stop to nighttime and early morning flight operations at the Marine Corps base on a hill overlooking Ginowan City. The lower court had earlier refused to order a stop to Marine Corps flight operations.

The high court ruling reduced compensation payments for some plaintiffs whose homes had been soundproofed and paid for by the central government. The central government had argued that the residents moved into the area despite knowing there were military air operations in the neighborhoods. The lawsuit was originally filed in October 2002 and April 2003. Naha District Court ruled two years ago that the central government should pay damages to all plaintiffs. Ginowan City’s Mayor, Yoichi Iha, testified that aircraft fly over residential areas, and said he wanted the court to order Futenma closed.

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