In an attempt to push for an early relocation of the air station, residents near the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma filed a lawsuit against the central government in the Naha District Court in the city of Okinawa. 1,199 plaintiffs are seeking 470 million yen ($5.9 million U.S. dollars) as compensation for excessive noise levels coming from the base.
According to the lawyers representing the residents, people living near the station are exposed to a Weighted Equivalent Continuous Perceived Noise Level (WECPNL) of 75 or higher since 2009, noise levels that are higher than those of subway cars. Hideo Miyaguni, head of the legal team for the plaintiffs, says that though they are seeking damages, their ultimate goal is the removal of the base whose continued presence is unacceptable in the heavily populated city of Ginowan. Japanese and U.S. governments have previously agreed to relocation the Futenma station to the less crowded Henoko, an area further north on Okinawa but no progress has been made so far. This lawsuit is different from one filed by 3,000 plaintiffs seeking an end to the presence of the U.S. bases and seeking compensation for noise-induced illness. The central government has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.
The lawsuit is just part of an ongoing battle of Okinawan residents against the U.S. military presence on the islands, which came to a head with the deployment of MV-22 Ospreys. Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima renewed his calls to the newly re-elected U.S. President Obama to reduce the load on the prefecture which is currently hosting the majority of the U.S. military in Japan all by itself.