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OKINAWA CITY — Government lawyers Thursday questioned two environmental health experts about why aircraft noise from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma has varying effects on residents in neighboring communities.

During cross-examination for a lawsuit filed by about 400 Ginowan residents in Naha District Court, defense lawyers for Japan’s national government asked Kozo Hiramatsu, a professor of acoustic environmental studies at Kyoto University, to explain why some residents are more sensitive to the noise than others.

Even in the Ojana district, one of the neighboring communities exposed to the highest noise levels, some of residents say the noise does not bother them, a government lawyer contested.

Hiramatsu said those who say the noise doesn’t bother them still may be suffering health effects.

Such effects include weakening of the immune system and hormone abnormality, he said.

“Whether they feel the impact or not, their body reacts to the stress,” he said.

The lawyers’ questions stemmed from “Health Impact Assessment of U.S. Military Aircraft Noise,” a report compiled by the Okinawa prefectural government. Hiramatsu and Toshihiko Matsui, an associate professor of environmental health who also testified Thursday, were members of the report’s research committee.

The report is the basis of the Ginowan residents’ lawsuit, filed in 2002, against the Japanese government and then-base commander Col. Richard Lueking.

The residents argue that the aircraft noise threatens their physical and mental health, and they are seeking a halt to all flight operations at the Marine Corps air station from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and $2.56 million in compensation.

The portion of the lawsuit against Lueking, now retired, was dismissed in 2004.

The next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 16.


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