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OKINAWA CITY — Despite millions of dollars being spent on soundproofing homes surrounding Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Ginowan residents claim the base still is too noisy.

During a hearing Thursday in the Okinawa city branch of Naha General District Court, Akifumi Matsuzaki, a lawyer for the residents, rebutted the national government’s contention that soundproof windows and doors successfully reduced aircraft noise levels.

“Basically, the number of rooms for each home to be soundproofed is limited to two,” Matsuzaki said. If a family chose to have its bedrooms soundproofed, for example, the living room would be excluded, preventing the family’s undisturbed conversation in the evening, he said. But if the home’s living areas were soundproofed, family members might be deprived of a quiet night’s sleep.

Additionally, Matsuzaki argued, living in a home with tightly closed windows steers away from the traditional Okinawan style of living.

“Also, if they keep the windows closed and keep air conditioners running, the electric bills would be enormous and unaffordable,” he said. “Considering the living style of residents in the neighboring communities of the air station, we must say that soundproofed windows and doors virtually produce no effect to improve the quality of living.”

Government lawyers were silent during Thursday’s hearing.

In November 2003, 404 residents in communities surrounding the air station sued the national government and the Marine base’s commanding officer, seeking an end to late evening and early morning flight operations. They also sought $2.56 million in damages, about $12,760 per plaintiff, as compensation for alleged physical and mental suffering caused by air station aircraft noise.

In March, Japan’s Supreme Court upheld dismissing the suit against Marine Col. Richard Lueking, former MCAS Futenma commander. The plaintiffs had sought $142,700 in damages directly from Lueking, claiming he was primarily responsible for noise levels at the air station.

The Fukuoka High Court ruled in September that the Japanese government is responsible for damages a civil servant causes while doing official business and that as commander of the base, Lueking was acting in his official capacity as a civil servant.

MCAS Futenma is to be closed once a new Marine air facility is built on Camp Schwab.

The next hearing in the noise lawsuit is scheduled for Sept. 7.


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