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Thursday, February 23, 2017, 12:38

Japan gov't pays record damages to Okinawa residents in US base noise suit

By Xinhua

Japan gov't pays record damages to Okinawa residents in US base noise suit
Residents living near the US Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture stage a rally, ahead of a hearing regarding relocating US base on Dec 2, 2015. (Photo / AFP)

TOKYO - Residents living near the US Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture have won the largest-ever amount of compensation from the central Japanese government related to a suit over excessive noise connected to a military base.

The US and Japanese governments have not taken fundamental prevention measures and illegal damage has been aimlessly left unresolved

the Okinawa branch of the Naha District Court

The plaintiffs were collectively awarded 30.2 billion yen (US$266 million) in damages by the Okinawa branch of the Naha District Court, which ruled that illegal damage had been left unresolved by the US and Japanese governments.

"The US and Japanese governments have not taken fundamental prevention measures and illegal damage has been aimlessly left unresolved," the branch was quoted as saying in handing down its ruling.

The lawsuit for excessive noise from the base was filed in 2011 by 22,000 residents, the largest-ever for such a lawsuit, but an additional petition to ban flights from the base between 7 pm and 7 am was turned down by the court.

The court noted that the Japanese government could not restrict flight times as the Kadena base belongs to the US military.

The plaintiffs came from five municipalities in Okinawa where, according to local media reports, noise levels have been logged at between 75 and 95 on the Weighted Equivalent Continuous Perceived Noise Level index.

READ MORE: Japan govt ordered to compensate Okinawa residents

The noise level registered in these municipalities legally necessitates government compensation.

The plaintiffs in their suit had complained of sleep and of hearing disorders as a result of the noise form the base and had petitioned for 57,500 yen in monthly payments each for damages in the future.

The latest compensation case seeing 30.2 billion yen awarded, far dwarfs that of the previous record, which stood at 8.2 billion yen in damages for noise suffered by people living near the US Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Kanagawa Prefecture near Tokyo.

READ MORE: Japan top court rules in favor of US base relocation within Okinawa

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