Okinawa residents sue state over construction of U.S. helipads
NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Residents around the construction site of helipads for the U.S. military in Okinawa Prefecture filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the state, seeking to stop the construction due to anticipated noise problems.
Around the Northern Training Area in the villages of Higashi and Kunigami where two helipads have already been built, local residents suffer from noise caused by aircraft, according to the lawsuit filed at the Naha District Court.
Locals insisted additional helipads will worsen the situation.
The central government has said the completion of helipads will benefit the people of Okinawa, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, because it will pave the way for the return of about half of the land used by the training area.
“Osprey aircraft fly around the community once an exercise starts and their low-altitude flights shake our buildings,” Ikuko Isa, a 55-year-old resident of the community of Takae, in Higashi, said at a news conference held by the plaintiffs.
Around the construction site, tensions are still running high between protesters and several hundred riot police officers dispatched from around the country.