TOKYO, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- A court on Thursday ordered the Japanese government to pay some 2.46 billion yen (22.6 million U.S. dollars) in damages to residents near the U.S. Futenma air base in Okinawa prefecture for aircraft noise.
A total of 3,395 residents filed the suit with the Naha District Court against the government, complaining of emotional distress and negative impacts on the health caused by the aircraft noise and demanded 10 billion yen in compensation.
The court recognized the sufferings of local residents around the air base and said the government failed to take effective measures to prevent the damages since the 1970s.
The court, however, rejected the plaintiffs' demand to suspend flights with noise levels surpassing 40 decibels early in the morning and at night and over 65 decibels at other times, and said the Japanese government is "in no position to regulate the operation of U.S. military aircraft."
The plaintiffs said they would appeal to a higher court.
The Japanese and U.S. governments have been seeking to move the Futenma base from Ginowan to the less-populated Henoko coastal area of Nago. The people of Okinawa, however, demand the Futenma base to be relocated outside the prefecture.
Okinawa hosts some 75 percent of U.S. bases in Japan while accounting for only 0.6 percent of the country's total land mass.