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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Over 20,000 sue government for Kadena Air Force noise pollution 嘉手納爆音3次訴訟 史上空前の2万人原告

Below is an excerpt from the Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus article (January 10, 2011) by Gavan McCormack, Norimatsu Satoko and Mark Selden "New Year 2011, Okinawa and the Future of East Asia," about the mass-scale lawsuit by over 20,000 residents in Okinawa against the Japanese government for the noise pollution of Kadena US Air Force Base.

Kadena US Air Force Base and Adjacent Neighbourhood (Photo from Ryukyu Shimpo)
The New Year Day issue of Ryukyu Shimpo carried encouraging news for anti-base forces. As of December 31, 2010, an unprecedented number of over 20,000 plaintiffs have joined the collective lawsuit against the government over the noise pollution of Kadena US Air Force Base. This is the third such lawsuit, the first being in 1982 and the second in 2000. The second was called a “mammoth lawsuit,” with 5,500 plaintiffs, one-fourth the present number. The second lawsuit demanded that the government ban landing and take-off between 7 pm and 7 am, restrict aircraft noise, and pay compensation for the psychological damage inflicted by the noise. The third lawsuit is expected to make similar demands.

The Kadena-based F-15s are among the aircraft that impose the greatest burden on surrounding neighborhoods. About one hundred aircraft are permanently stationed and operated there, and foreign-based planes also frequently visit. Residents complain of being woken up by 110-120 decibel sound blasts, the kind of noise one hears when a car revs its engine from one meter away. In the first two lawsuits, the high court turned down the plaintiff’s demand for a flight ban, saying it was a third-party (US military) operation that the Japanese government could not control. The plaintiffs of the second lawsuit have appealed to the Supreme Court.

Takara Tetsumi, a constitutional law specialist at the University of Ryukyus compares this large-scale suit to the movement for Okinawan reversion to Japan prior to 1972, both based on the constitutional principle of the right of peaceful existence. Ryukyu Shimpo calls the lawsuit “a modern-day popular uprising.”11 The suit, coming at a time when China-Japan tensions have led to heightened pressures for militarization, is the latest sign that Okinawa will continue at the center of efforts to define Japan’s future.

(For discussion on the Kadena noise lawsuits, see “Kokunai saidai genkoku 2 man kyo ? Kadena bakuon 3ji sosho, 2ji no 4bai,” Ryukyu Shimpo, 1 Jan 2011 and“Genkoku 2man kyo gendai no minshu hoki dahiko sashitome ni fumikome,” Ryukyu Shimpo, 3 Jan 2011.)

F16 arrived on Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa from Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, on January 21, 2011
Photo from Ryukyu Shimpo
 The latest Ryukyu Shimpo news on the issue reports the unusual number of foreign aircraft using Kadena Base, including twelve F-16s (see photo above), which will stay at Kadena until mid-February. As of January 21, there are 30 foreign aircraft stationed on Kadena. These F-16s are scheduled for joint drills with F-15s based on Kadena. Since January 18, noises more than 70 decibels have been recorded more than 150 times a day every day, including 180 times on January 20. The average number of noises of that level per day in the previous year was 113.

The effects of noise pollution on the residents of Kadena include difficulty of hearing, low birth weights, restlessness, and lower immunity to diseases.

PP

琉球新報1月22日

F16、6機飛来 嘉手納 外来30機超の異常事態2011年1月22日

(写真)
F15戦闘機との模擬空中戦を目的に飛来したアイルソン空軍基地所属のF16戦闘機。尾翼にアラスカを示すAKの文字が見える=21日午後5時50分ごろ、嘉手納基地

 【嘉手納】米空軍嘉手納基地に21日午後、米アラスカ州アイルソン空軍基地所属のF16戦闘機6機が飛来した。2月中旬まで駐留予定。先に飛来したF22戦闘機などの外来機を含めると嘉手納基地には21日現在、30機余の外来機が集結する異常事態になっている。

 F16は合計12機飛来する予定で今回は第1陣。残りの機体は22日以降に飛来するとみられる。同機は塗装が派手なことで知られる第18アグレッサー(仮想敵)中隊所属で嘉手納基地をはじめ世界中の米軍基地に派遣される。嘉手納ではF15戦闘機との模擬空中戦を予定している。F16は2010年2月にもF15との合同訓練を目的に飛来し、連日爆音を響かせていた。同年2月24日には1999年度以降では最高値となる108デシベルの騒音が嘉手納町屋良で計測され、苦情も町に多数寄せられた。

 嘉手納基地に飛来した外来機は今週初めごろから本格的に訓練を開始。18日以降、嘉手納町屋良で連日70デシベル以上の騒音回数が150回を超え、20日は180回を記録した。前年度の1日平均騒音発生回数は113回。相次ぐ外来機の飛来に嘉手納飛行場に関する三市町連絡協議会会長の野国昌春北谷町長は「北沢(俊美)防衛大臣は来県の時、(F15の)グアムへの訓練移転を手柄のように話していたが、結局外来機は来ており、住民として許し難い状況だ」と憤った。

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