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KADENA, Okinawa — Some 95 percent of the people who live in the shadow of Kadena Air Base say they suffer mental and physical damage from jet noise.

That’s the result of a recently released survey of 300 households contacted by Kadena town officials between May and December of last year.

The survey was made of people living within blocks of the sprawling air base and facing the runway. Kadena town officials reported 43 percent of the respondents said they suffered some ear ringing, while 28 percent said they had significant hearing loss. Some of the residents said they have had to resort to wearing earplugs when they go to sleep at night.

The survey also showed that 90 percent of the respondents said they were afraid of the possibility of jet crashes and 78 percent were concerned about the possibility of nearby fuel tanks exploding.

Noise has been a constant complaint by town residents over the years. Some 5,500 residents filed a lawsuit in 2000 seeking a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. ban on flight operations and $54.3 million in compensation for damages they claimed was caused by jet noise.

In 2005, the Naha District Court ordered the Japanese government to pay 24 million yen (about $197,900) to 3,881 of the residents, but dismissed the claims of another 1,700, ruling that noise levels in their neighborhoods were within tolerable limits.

That group filed an appeal to the local branch of the Fukuoka High Court.

Over the years, the U.S. and Japanese governments adopted special noise-abatement measures, including soundproofing homes near the air base. Japan spent $1.3 billion to install soundproof windows in more than 42,000 homes and public buildings.

Also, in the last two years the base conducted about 2,000 fewer F-15 flights compared to similar bases in the United States.

Kadena Air Base officials had no comment Monday on the survey.


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