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Supreme Court rejects Kadena noise suit appeal

Date Posted: 2011-02-04

A court battle over blocking military flights at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa has been decided, and citizens aren't happy with the outcome.

The Japan Supreme Court rejected an appeal from 460 of the 5,540 plaintiffs who were seeking a ban on military flights because of noise pollution. The high court's local Naha branch in February 2009 awarded the citizens エ5.62 billion in damages, but refused to consider ordering the American military to stop flights. It was the largest compensation ever awarded in an aircraft noise suit that involved either civilian airports or military bases.

The plaintiffs, in appealing to the Supreme Court, had asked that late-night and early-morning flights by the Kadena-based jet fighters be halted. The court did say, though, that the state has political responsibility to take action to curb the noise when residents don't have a legal means to ban flights.

"Fighter jets are flying above a school and disturbing student studies," says 73-year-old Seiyu Nakamura, who's led the appeal process. "It's too late to deal with the problem after something happens, like a crash," he argued.

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