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Residents demand money for Futenma noise

Date Posted: 2007-01-25

Ginowan residents are finally getting a day in court, appealing for special compensation to make up for their suffering with Futenma Marine Corps Air Station.

It has taken more than four years for the civil suit filed by 404 residents angered by the noise created by aircraft at the Marine Corps air station to reach a public forum. The residents are demanding the court impose a 7pm to 7am ban on all flight operations at Futenma, plus a monetary settlement of $2.56 million. That financial remuneration would include payments for up to a year after the legal case oral arguments are complete.

The case is now being heard by the Naha General District Court, at its Okinawa City Branch. The residents’ attorneys told the court compensation should be extended as long as Futenma remains an active American military airbase, and that future damage is reasonable and proper. The residents charge that noise from Futenma’s round-the-clock flight operations have damaged both their physical and mental health.

Japanese government attorneys argue that paying Ginowan residents for future damage is not viable. They told the district court the case should be restricted to only damages for past flight operations. Residents told the judge they expect the Marines to continue flight operations long beyond the end of the trial, and that they should be compensated.

Plans are under way to replace the controversial Futenma air facility, but relief is not expected until 2014, when a replacement is operational on the northern side of Okinawa. An airport with two V-shape, 1,800 meter long runways has been designed for Camp Schwab, with environmental assessments to begin soon.

A defense attorney for the Ginowan residents says her clients need relief now. “It is safe to assume the noise will go on,” Tomoko Uehara says, pointing out that under current plans Futenma could have planes and helicopters flying for another seven years, or more.

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