NAHA, Okinawa — The Japanese government and residents living in communities near Kadena Air Base squared off Tuesday over how noisy the air base actually is.

During a hearing Tuesday in the Naha Branch of the Fukuoka High Court, a lead attorney for the Japanese government argued that aircraft noise emitted from Kadena is not as loud as the residents say.

According to a recent report citing measurements taken in neighborhoods adjacent to the air base between 1997 and 2004, noise levels were within the environmental limits at all 11 monitoring points, a government attorney said.

She added that the government’s soundproofing of homes near the air base contributed to reducing the noise levels.

Attorneys for the residents questioned the credibility of the government’s noise survey.

“We see serious problems in the selection of monitoring points, the equipment, as well as the method,” said Shun Sato, one of the lawyers for the residents. He said the government failed to read noise levels caused by takeoffs and landings.

In January, a lawyer for the group asked the three-judge panel from the Fukuoka High Court’s Naha Branch to visit the neighborhoods adjacent to the air base and judge the noise levels for themselves. The judges have not ruled on the request.

The lawsuit stretches back to 2000, when 5,500 residents of Uruma, Okinawa city, Chatan and Yomitan — communities affected by the air base’s operations — filed a lawsuit demanding a 7 p.m.-7 a.m. ban on flights and $54.3 million in compensation for alleged physical and mental damage caused by aircraft noise.

About five years later, the Naha District Court ordered the Japanese government to pay 24 million yen (about $197,900) to 3,881 residents. But the court dismissed the claims by 1,700 other residents, ruling that noise levels in their neighborhoods were within tolerable limits.

Their appeal of that ruling is being heard by the Fukuoka High Court.

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