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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 July 29 - August 4  > High court suspends night flights of SDF aircraft over Atsugi City
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2015 July 29 - August 4 [POLITICS]

High court suspends night flights of SDF aircraft over Atsugi City

July 31, 2015
The Tokyo High Court on July 30 upheld a district court decision to ban nighttime flights of Self-Defense Forces aircraft stationed at the Atsugi base, ordering the national government to pay 9.4 billion yen in compensation to area residents.

The high court, however, stopped short of delivering an injunction against U.S. military aircraft as is the case in the lower court on the ground that Japan does not have the administrative authority over U.S. aircraft.

Defense Minister Nakatani Gen after the ruling indicated that the ministry will consider filing an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Nearly 7,000 residents living around the Atsugi base (Yamato and Ayase cities, Kanagawa Pref.) have long claimed in court that many health problems are caused by the excessive noise of military aircraft.

The high court determined that noise-induced health hazards to nearby residents will continue until the U.S. Navy Carrier Air Wing Five is moving to the Iwakuni base (Yamaguchi Pref.) in 2017, hinting that it is the U.S. military aircraft that have been causing health damage to the plaintiffs.

Regarding the SDF aircraft, the court endorsed a ban on their flights from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. until the end of 2016, pointing out that they are adding to the already serious noise from the U.S. aircraft.

Taking into account the expected damage until the end of 2016, the court ordered an extra 1.2 billion yen in addition to 8.2 billion yen in compensation to be paid to the plaintiffs.

U.S. F/A-18 fighter jets and MV-22 Osprey aircraft respectively based at the U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni base and the Futenma base (Okinawa Pref.) often use the Atsugi base as well. Therefore, even after the U.S. Navy Carrier Air Wing moves out of Atsugi to Iwakuni, the noise pollusion will likely remain.

Lawyer Fukuda Mamoru, outside the Tokyo High Court, told reporters that the ruling is “a big step forward” but is “regrettable” for not ordering suspension of flights of U.S. aircraft.

Past related articles:
> Court bans SDF military night flights[May 22, 2014]
> Residents’ complaints about US aircraft roar reached highest number ever in 2012[February 2, 2013]
> 6,130 file lawsuit demanding reduction in noise pollution at U.S. Atsugi base [December 18, 2007]
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