OKINAWA CITY — A university professor and the Ginowan deputy mayor stressed a need for early closure of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma during a Thursday hearing.

Masaie Ishihara, a professor of sociology at Okinawa International University, told a three-judge panel in Naha District Court that for Ginowan residents, moving elsewhere just because the air station is noisy is not an option.

“Ginowan residents hold a strong sense of attachment to their ancestral lands,” he said, calling it a trait of Okinawan people.

In a $2.56 million lawsuit filed by 404 Ginowan residents in 2002 against the Japanese government, residents also are seeking a halt to all flight activities from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

They claim that noise from the air station is harmful to their physical and mental health.

Ishihara said that before the military confiscated the land to build the air station in the Battle of Okinawa, the heart of Ginowan community was located where the air station sits now.

“After the war, people began to drift around the military base, looking for the closest available place to their ancestral land to settle down,” he said.

Meanwhile, Takeshi Asato, deputy mayor of Ginowan, said the city received 160 calls in 2006 from residents complaining aircraft noise.

The number of calls has grown steadily since 2003, when the city established a hot line to take calls from residents concerning noise, he said.

Each complaint is documented and faxed to the Marine Corps, Asato said.

“We want the air station closed and the danger removed as soon as possible,” he said. “This is the consensus of Ginowan people.”

A lawyer for the government argued that Tokyo government has spent $56.3 million on soundproofing homes and public facilities near the air station and has offered $80.56 million in subsidies to the city for hosting the Marine Corps base since Okinawa reverted to Japan in 1972.

The next hearing is set for July 12.

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