OKINAWA CITY — Aircraft noise from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma inhibits the healthy growth of children in the neighboring communities, two local teachers testified Thursday during a hearing in a Japanese court.

Ryuichi Nakada, assistant director of Pinocchio Day Nursery School located in Ginowan’s Kakazu district, told the three-judge panel in the residents’ suit against the Japanese government that noise from low-flying aircraft often scares the 100 young children at the school.

It is especially disruptive during the children’s afternoon nap time, Nakada said.

“When they are awakened by the aircraft roar they become panicked and aimlessly run around while the nursery staff desperately tries to comfort them,” he said.

Some 404 Ginowan residents filed suit in 2002 against the Japanese government and the base former base commander, Col. Richard Lueking, claiming aircraft noise from the air station was detrimental to their physical and psychological health. They are seeking $2.56 million in compensation and a halt to all flight operations from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The suit against Lueking, now retired, was dismissed by the court in September 2004. The judges ruled he could not be liable.

During cross-examination Thursday, a government lawyer asked Nakada if the children cried not because of the noise, but because their mothers were not there when they awoke from their naps.

“We can easily tell whether a child is crying for his mother or crying because he is scared,” Nakada said.

He added that he was more worried about the older children, ages 5 and 6, who become unresponsive when the aircraft roar overhead.

“They seem to be numb to the noise, which is abnormal and not healthy,” he said.

Sunao Kadekaru, who taught at Futenma No. 2 Elementary School last year, shared Nakada’s concern. The elementary school is one of the closest neighbors of the air station.

“The aircraft emerge from the shrubbery in the corner of the schoolyard and fly right above the roof of the school building,” he told the court.

The vibrations of the “hissing rotors” shake the school, he said.

Last month, the three judges from the Okinawa City Branch of the Naha District Court visited the communities surrounding MCAS Futenma to experience first-hand what the residents claim is a daily disruption.

The residents claimed the noise levels that day were disappointingly low.

The next hearing in the Futenma noise suit is scheduled for June 21.

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