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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 May 30 - June 5  > Supreme Court refuses to compensate for ‘future damage’ in mammoth suit against noise pollution at U.S. Yokota Air Base
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2007 May 30 - June 5 [US FORCES]

Supreme Court refuses to compensate for ‘future damage’ in mammoth suit against noise pollution at U.S. Yokota Air Base

May 30, 2007
The Supreme Court on May 29 ordered the state to pay about 6,000 plaintiffs a total of 3.02 billion yen in compensation for the damage caused by noise pollution at the U.S. Yokota Air Base.

It refused to compensate for the “future damage” and reduced the amount of compensation by 230 million yen from that ordered in a lower court decision.

The Tokyo High Court decision in November 2005 recognized the damage inflicted between the conclusion of the trial and the day of the judgment as “future damage.”

The Supreme Court judged that “future damage” cannot be recognized beforehand. However, stressing the strong possibility of continuance of the noise pollution and the need to provide adequate relief, two of the five judges expressed dissent.

On May 22, the Supreme Court also turned down a plaintiffs’ demand that the government ban night and early morning flights of U.S. military aircraft at the Yokota base. Coupled with its 2002 decision to dismiss a similar claim against the U.S., the Supreme Court unjustifiably denied the right of residents to demand a halt to such flights.

The plaintiffs group and their lawyers on the same day issued a statement, saying, “The Supreme Court’s rejection of prohibition of flights has closed the road to a satisfactory solution for the residents of the problem. The denial of the compensation for the ‘future damage’ will force residents to repeat filing lawsuits demanding compensation and amounts to abandoning the role of the judiciary.”

The 2005 Tokyo High Court decision pointed out that despite the seven court decisions, including two Supreme Court decisions, judging the state of noise pollution at the Yokota base as illegal, the state has allowed the situation to persist and failed to establish a system to compensate for damages. It criticized the government for its failure to solve the problem, stating, “This is an abnormal situation in a country ruled by law.”

The U.S. and Japanese governments are planning to establish at the Yokota Air Base an integrated command of the U.S. Air Force and the Air Self-Defense Force as part of the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan. They are also considering allowing civil aviation to use the base. These government plans will increase and perpetuate the noise pollution, going directly against the residents’ demands. - Akahata, May 30, 2007
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