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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 October 11 - 17  > Gov’t ordered to pay residents near US Yokota AB 600 million yen in damages for noise
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2017 October 11 - 17 [US FORCES]

Gov’t ordered to pay residents near US Yokota AB 600 million yen in damages for noise

October 12, 2017
The Tokyo District Court Tachikawa Branch on October 11 ordered the state government to pay people living in the vicinity of the U.S. Yokota Air Base about 600 million yen in compensation for damages caused by noise pollution.

Residents near the base, which is located in Tokyo’s western suburban city of Fussa, have long fought in court to seek compensation. They also demanded an injunction against U.S. and SDF aircraft flights from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., claiming that the noise emitted by military aircraft continuously taking off and landing interrupts their daily lives and poses health hazards.

The presiding judge acknowledged that the noise nuisance has been in excess of tolerable limits, disturbing sleep and inflicting emotional distress, and ordered the payment of 618.8 million yen in total to the inhabitants of areas whose noise levels exceed a particular level.

The judge, however, dismissed the plaintiffs’ demand for a halt to the nighttime flight operations while condemning the government’s negligence in making efforts to fundamentally resolve the noise-caused violation of people’s rights. He stated that since Japan and the U.S. reached an agreement in 1993 to restrict nighttime flights, the government of Japan has not done anything to have the U.S. military abide by the agreement.

A leader of the plaintiffs’ group after the ruling said, “It’s regrettable that our demand for suspension of night flights was turned down. Our claim for compensation for possible future noise pollution damages was also rejected. We will continue to file lawsuits,” showing the intention to continue to fight in an appeal court.

Starting with 905 residents, the plaintiffs’ organization filed a second round of the so-called new Yokota AB pollution case in 2013. Another 173 residents joined the group in the end.

Fussa citizens had filed a similar lawsuit twice in the past (1976, 1996). The second legal action or the first round of the new Yokota AB pollution case was a massive lawsuit with about 6,000 plaintiffs. In this large-scale suit, the Supreme Court ruling awarded compensation only for past damages in 2007. The residents’ “ardent wish” to regain quiet nights was overruled.

Past related article:
> Tokyoites again sue for noise pollution by US military aircraft [ March 27, 2013]
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