Kadena-area residents appeal noise ruling
March 15, 2009
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Dissatisfied with a court ruling last month on aircraft noise from Kadena Air Base, more than 450 residents brought their case Wednesday to Japan’s Supreme Court.
The Fukuoka High Court’s Naha branch awarded 5.62 billion yen (about $57 million) to 5,519 residents Feb. 27. The court ruled residents’ health and quality of life have been damaged by the noise and criticized the Japanese government for not taking measures to resolve the problem.
The court, however, dismissed the residents’ demand to suspend flight operations from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
It ruled that U.S. military activities are based on a bilateral pact between the governments, and therefore are outside the control of the Japanese government.
On Wednesday, 466 residents in communities near the base filed a final appeal against the Japanese government, demanding compensation and suspension of aircraft operations during early and late hours, according to the lead lawyer for the residents, Toshio Ikemiyagi. Their awards are on hold while their appeals are pending.
Meanwhile, the Japanese government Thursday let stand the High Court decision to award the remaining 5,053 residents their share of the 5.62 billion yen payout, according to a spokesman for Okinawa Defense Bureau of Ministry of Defense.
"The government decided not to appeal as there were no grounds found for appeal," the spokesman said.
Also dismissed by the court Feb. 27 was a separate suit by 21 residents against the U.S. government to halt air operations on Kadena Air Base in early and late hours.
On Wednesday, however, the residents appealed the dismissal, Ikemiyagi said.
"It is not the money residents seek," Ikemiyagi said.
"Their earnest and modest wish is to have some quiet, aircraft-noise-free hours at home."