Deaths from Kadena Air Base aircraft noise estimated at 4 people annually

February 19, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

On February 18 at Naha District Court, the oral proceedings of the third Kadena noise pollution lawsuit took place, presided over by Judge Tetuya Fujikura. Professor of environmental health at Hokkaido University Toshihito Matsui, called to the stand as an expert witness, reported an estimation of the effect on the population living around Kadena Air Base, saying, “About four people are dying of heart attacks and strokes per year due to nighttime [aircraft] noise.”

Professor Matsui estimated that around Kadena Air Base 10,000 people have moderate or severe sleep disorders. The number of people around Kadena Air Base experiencing heart disease and strokes has risen to about 30 people, and about 4 people die of heart attacks and strokes annually. Professor Matusi applied the methods used in epidemiological surveys conducted by the World Health Organization and Heathrow Airport to the data of the noise levels around Kadena from the Okinawa prefectural government to come up with these results.

In regards to studies involving the effect of noise, Professor Matsui said, “Up until now, it was incorrectly thought that loud noise had only considerable psychological effects. However, knowledge on the health effects of noise is being gathered through studies conducted in Europe.” Concerning Kadena Air Base he testified, “Scientific understanding shows that getting rid of heart disease and deaths related to [aircraft] noise is not possible without suspending nighttime flights and base activities.”

Following continued negotiations in May, the trial is expected to conclude in August this year.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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