US aircraft noise disrupts classes in majority of public schools around Futenma and Kadena

February 25, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

A survey of U.S. aircraft noise impact on classrooms was carried out by the Education Bureau of Okinawa Prefecture last June for 27 public schools in three municipalities: Ginowan, Kadena, and Chatan. The majority of schools responded in the survey that the noise had some effect on classrooms. At the prefectural assembly on February 24, Akira Moromizato, head of the board of education, answered questions from Mio Nakamura of the Social Democratic Party (Pro-Constitution).

The survey was carried out in three municipalities that host Futenma Air Station and Kadena Air Base, and vice principals of each school answered the questionnaire. The survey asked in a free description format about the implementation status of noise measurement based on school environmental health standards and about the impact on classrooms.

Fifteen out of 27 schools described the effects in classrooms. To a question where multiple answers were allowed, 10 schools (37 percent) answered, “The class gets disrupted by the noise of hovering and flying jet planes”; seven schools (26 percent) answered, “The teacher’s voice does not carry during outdoor activities”; six schools (22.2 percent) answered, “Students cannot focus in class”; and three schools (11.1 percent) answered, “The noise shakes glass windows and basketball hoops.” Twelve schools replied, “There is no impact.”

The survey did not include the impact of the MV-22 Osprey, which generates low-frequency sound during take-off. Questioned about the need for an Osprey impact survey, Moromizato answered, “We would like to listen to opinions from concerned municipalities and consider the implementation of a survey.”

Nine schools (33.3 percent) carry out noise measurement based on school environmental health standards. Only Futenma Daini Elementary School and Futenma Junior High School carried out noise measurements dedicated to the noise around the military base.

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana) 

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