Japan gov't ruled to pay Okinawa residents for US base noise

Updated: 2015-06-11 13:53


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TOKYO - A local court in Japan's southernmost Okinawa Prefecture on Thursday ruled that the Japanese central government pay about 754 million yen (about $6.13 million) in damages to residents who live around the controversial US Futenma airbase in the prefecture for aircraft noises.

About 2,200 plaintiffs, who live in Ginowan city where the US airbase stationed, said they suffer from mental distress as aircraft noise from the base has disrupted their sleep and daily lives, adding that they also worry about aircraft crushes related to the US air station.

The plaintiffs sought about 1 billion yen (about $8.13 million) for compensation, according to local report. A similar case was filed in 2002, resulting in the court ruling that the government pay about 369 million yen in damages at that time.

But the 2010 ruling rejected the residents'plea for the suspension of early morning and evening flights.

Resentment against the US Futenma airbase has been deeply rooted in the hearts of Okinawa people since a violent rape against a local schoolgirl by three US servicemen in 1995 and a Marine CH-53D Sea Stallion heavy assault transport helicopter's plowing into the Okinawa International University in Ginowan in 2004.

A total of 24 pro-accident MV-22 Osprey aircraft are now stationed in the Futenma airbase, which located in the downtown Ginowan city.

The Japanese and US governments decided to relocate the US airbase from Ginowan city to less-populated coastal area of Henoko in Nago city in Okinawa and drilling works for the new base, the replacement for the Futenma, has been carried out.

But the Okinawan prefectural government and residents strongly oppose the relocation plan and demand the US base be removed outside the prefecture since the small island that occupies about 0.6 percent of Japanese territory hosts over 70 percent US bases in Japan.

Okinawa governor Takeshi Onaga criticized last month that US bases in Okinawa has been damaging local economy as the US base-related revenue only accounts for about 4.9 percent of the prefecture's gross domestic products, a drop of some 45 percent from that in 1945.

He said that local economy gained momentum after exploiting and developing the land returned from the US bases.