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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 July 20 - 26  > Takae residents suffering from increased noise pollution by US military aircraft in Okinawa
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2016 July 20 - 26 [US FORCES]

Takae residents suffering from increased noise pollution by US military aircraft in Okinawa

July 20, 2016
In the Takae district of Higashi Village (Okinawa Prefecture), where the Abe government is constructing U.S. military helipads, the noise pollution caused by U.S. military aircraft became much more severe compared to two years ago. Especially, the number of nighttime flights increased by 24 times from 2014.

An Okinawa government official revealed this fact in a meeting of the special committee on U.S. military-related issues at the prefectural assembly in response to an inquiry from Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Toguchi Osamu.

A survey by the Okinawa prefectural government shows that the level of aircraft noise which was registered in Takae in June stood at 54 db on average, up by 1.3 times from the yearly average of 40 db in 2014. The number of times that the noise was recorded was 32.8 per day in June, eight times higher than 4.1 per day in 2014. Concerning noises in the night (from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.), the number increased by 24 folds, from 16.2 per month in 2014 to 383 per month in June.

A 52-year-old woman living in Takae pointed out that from around 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., U.S. Ospreys repeat flights using the same route. She said, “When Ospreys are flying overhead, my house shakes and I get a headache. It’s really terrible.”

* * *

The Defense Ministry intends to terminate part of its subsidy for maintaining air conditioners in schools near U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

The Education and Welfare Committee of the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly on July 19 unanimously decided to submit to the plenary session of the assembly its draft of a written opinion calling for the cancellation of the Defense Ministry’s plan.

The planned termination of the subsidy will affect 89 public facilities including childcare centers and elementary and junior high schools, according to a survey by the prefectural board of education.

The written opinion draft insists that air conditioners are essential for schools to protect the learning environment from the noise of U.S. military aircraft. Stating that in order to prevent the noise from interfering with classes, the A/C running cost subsidy should be continued, and the document urges the Defense Ministry to keep providing the financial support.
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