Thursday, February 23, 2017

Japan gov't pays record amount in damages to Okinawa plaintiffs in U.S. base noise suit

TOKYO, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Residents living near the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture have won the largest-ever amount of compensation from the central Japanese government related to a suit over excessive noise connected to a military base.
The plaintiffs were collectively awarded 30.2 billion yen (266 million U.S. dollars) in damages by the Okinawa branch of the Naha District Court, which ruled that illegal damage had been left unresolved by the U.S. and Japanese governments.
"The U.S. and Japanese governments have not taken fundamental prevention measures and illegal damage has been aimlessly left unresolved," the branch was quoted as saying in handing down its ruling.
The lawsuit for excessive noise from the base was filed in 2011 by 22,000 residents, the largest-ever for such a lawsuit, but an additional petition to ban flights from the base between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. was turned down by the court.

The court noted that the Japanese government could not restrict flight times as the Kadena base belongs to the U.S. military.
The plaintiffs came from five municipalities in Okinawa where, according to local media reports, noise levels have been logged at between 75 and 95 on the Weighted Equivalent Continuous Perceived Noise Level index.
The noise level registered in these municipalities legally necessitates government compensation.
The plaintiffs in their suit had complained of sleep and of hearing disorders as a result of the noise form the base and had petitioned for 57,500 yen in monthly payments each for damages in the future.
The latest compensation case seeing 30.2 billion yen awarded, far dwarfs that of the previous record, which stood at 8.2 billion yen in damages for noise suffered by people living near the U.S. Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Kanagawa Prefecture near Tokyo.

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