Noise pollution caused by U.S. base forced town to collapse

A town vanished because of the U.S. Yokota Air Base, located in the Japanese capital of Tokyo. Noise pollution and shock waves caused by military aircraft in the base forced about 800 households in a shopping district located in its south to move.

On June 5, 34 participants in a peace tour of the Yokota base were surprised to hear their tour guide reveal this fact.

The tour was organized by the Tokyo Peace Committee and the Center for Removal of the Yokota Base.

The guide said, "A shopping center was built in the base exclusively for U.S. military personnel, using 6.9 billion yen from the Japanese 'sympathy' budget." He also told participants that the budget is also used to pay wages for Japanese workers in the base and to build high-rise apartment buildings for U.S. military personnel and their families. The floor space of each unit is 140 square meters, he added.

Shimizu Koichi, representative of a group of plaintiffs in a lawsuit demanding a ban on night and early morning flights by U.S. military aircraft, said, "Can you imagine how unhealthy it is to live with windows always kept closed? The Japanese and U.S. governments should respond to residents' demands."

The U.S. Yokota Air Base stretches between six municipalities in Tokyo. The Command of the U.S. Forces in Japan and the 5th Air Force Command stationed in the base played important roles in the Iraq War. - Akahata, June 7, 2005

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