Friday, November 18, 2016

Okinawans win compensation against U.S. base noise pollution

OKINAWA, Okinawa Prefecture--A court here ordered the central government to pay compensation of 2.46 billion yen ($22.5 million) to be shared among 3,395 plaintiffs for noise pollution caused by a U.S. military base.
However, the district court stopped short of meeting a demand from the plaintiffs for an injunction against the noise pollution at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan.
The Okinawa branch of the Naha District Court stated in its Nov. 17 ruling that plaintiffs who lived in an area where the weighted equivalent continuous perceived noise level was 75 or higher "experienced a psychological burden and had various aspects of their daily lives interfered with, from conversation, telephone calls, watching TV, listening to the radio, studying and spending time with the family."

Twenty-two of the plaintiffs were denied compensation on grounds they lived outside the areas of noise levels of 75 or higher.
The district court also blasted the Japanese and U.S. governments for doing nothing to deal with the noise pollution since a lawsuit submitted by local residents in 2002, in which 370 million yen in compensation was awarded to 400 or so plaintiffs.
In another lawsuit seeking only compensation, the Okinawa branch of the Naha District Court in 2015 ordered the central government to pay a total of about 754 million yen to about 2,100 residents.
Past lawsuits have also sought temporary injunctions against flights by U.S. military aircraft that are the main cause of noise problem. However, courts rejected those requests on the grounds that the aircraft are operated by the United States and the Japanese government is not in a position to restrict the flights.
To overcome that obstacle, the plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit sought an injunction against noise pollution and argued that the central government was responsible for it because it provided the base used by the U.S. military. However, that argument was also rejected.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they will appeal the ruling to demand an injunction against the noise pollution.

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