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HOME  > Past issues  > 2009 March 18 - 24  > Iwakuni citizens file suit against U.S. military aircraft noise
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2009 March 18 - 24 TOP3 [US FORCES]

Iwakuni citizens file suit against U.S. military aircraft noise

March 24, 2009
This is the first lawsuit of its kind to be filed by residents of Iwakuni City hosting the U.S. base where FA-18s and other aircraft from the Marine Aircraft Group 12 of the USMC 1st division are deployed.

Crying, “We have reached the limit of our patience,” about 480 residents of Iwakuni City which hosts the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni on March 23 filed a lawsuit with the Yamaguchi District Court, asking the court to order an injunction against nighttime flights by U.S. Marine Corps aircraft and provide compensation for damage caused by unbearable noise from their flights.

This is the first lawsuit of its kind to be filed by residents of Iwakuni City hosting the U.S. base where FA-18s and other aircraft from the Marine Aircraft Group 12 of the USMC 1st division are deployed.

The 476 plaintiffs are residents of districts where the Weighted Equivalent Continuous Perceived Noise Level is 75, a level of noise registered on moving subway cars.

If 60 U.S. carrier-borne fighter jets are moved to the Iwakuni base from the U.S. Atsugi base in Kanagawa Prefecture under the U.S. military realignment plan in Japan, the total number of aircraft deployed will be 120.

The plaintiffs are calling for the planned relocation of aircraft from Atsugi to be canceled. According to the lawyers’ group for the plaintiffs, this is the first lawsuit in Japan to demand that the government give up its relocation plan.

Emphasizing that the residents have been disturbed by excessive noise from U.S. military aircraft for many years, the plaintiffs are asking the court to order:

(1) a halt to flights between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., with no landings and taking-offs as well as engine operation, and keep noise decibel lower than 60 during the day (from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.),
(2) a ban on circular flights over residential areas as well as sudden climbouts,
(3) a halt to the relocations of carrier-borne aircraft from Atsugi as well as mid-air refueling aircraft from the USMC Air Station Futenma in Okinawa to Iwakuni,
(4) payments of a total of 540 million yen, or about one million yen for each plaintiff, in compensation for damage from U.S. military jets, and
(5) payments of 23,000 yen a month to every plaintiff until they are relieved of such noise.

Later, lawyer Yoshikawa Itsuo at a news conference stated, “In noise pollution lawsuits throughout Japan, courts have concluded that noise from aircraft at the U.S. Atsugi Naval Air Facility and the U.S. Kadena Air Force Base is in violation of Japanese law.

Iwakuni plaintiffs joined this legal battle by calling for a halt to the planned relocation of carrier-loaded aircraft units, the lawyer added. In Iwakuni, plaintiffs are demanding a court injunction against relocation of carrier-borne aircraft to Iwakuni. We will continue to further increase our ranks to achieve victory in this lawsuit.”
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