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NAHA, Okinawa — Kadena Air Base aircraft noise seriously affects lives of people living near the air base, lawyers for the base’s neighbors argued Thursday in the Naha branch of the Fukuoka High Court.

It was the second oral argument in an appeal to a lower court ruling that dismissed claims made by 1,700 of the 5,542 original plaintiffs in the March 2000 lawsuit.

The lower court had ruled the aircraft noise was within “tolerable levels” for the smaller group, which wasn’t entitled to compensation.

The original March 2000 lawsuit sought to ban aircraft operations between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and demanded 6.24 billion yen (about $54.3 million) in compensation. In February 2005, Naha’s District Court ordered the Japanese government to pay 2.8 billion yen (about $24 million) in compensation but excluded about 1,700 residents from the award.

The next month, the plaintiffs appealed.

Makoto Kamiya, one of the residents’ lawyers, told the three-judge panel Thursday his clients have suffered from being exposed to severe noise throughout their lives, disturbing their sleep and making conversation in their homes difficult.

U.S. and Japanese governments have adopted special noise-reduction measures. The base agreed in 1996 to restrict flights from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. In 2005, the Japanese government spent 4.3 billion yen (about $37.4 million) to soundproof homes near Kadena Air Base and Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. As of March, about 56,000 homes near the two bases had had rooms soundproofed.

Masue Nagaoka, another lawyer for the residents, countered a government argument that some residents put themselves at risk by moving into the communities knowing the hazards.

“There is no means at all for residents to know clearly” the areas where noise levels are intensive, she said.

The next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 3.


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