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Wednesday, January 26, 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.



F16、6機飛来 嘉手納 外来30機超の異常事態2011年1月22日





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