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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 December 7 - 13  > Top court in regard to noise pollution at Atsugi base turns back on local residents demand for quiet nights
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2016 December 7 - 13 [SDF]

Top court in regard to noise pollution at Atsugi base turns back on local residents demand for quiet nights

December 9, 2016
The Supreme Court on December 8 turned down a high court decision and allowed the continuation of the night flights of Self-Defense Forces aircraft near Atsugi.

After the ruling outside the courthouse, plaintiffs’ lawyers in protest against this judgement carried banners reading, “Top Court rules out victims’ tight to relief.”

The lawsuit was the fourth of its kind involving more than 7,000 plaintiffs living in the vicinity of the Atsugi base stretching from Yamato City to Ayase City in Kanagawa Prefecture, demanding suspension of the night flights between 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. and compensation for the damages caused by the noise pollution.

The Tokyo High Court, following the first trial at the Yokohama District Court, ordered the suspension of the SDF aircraft flights between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. In addition, the second proceedings of the suit ordered the government to pay 9.4 billion yen to nearby residents, including compensation for possible future noise damages of 1.2 billion yen.

The Supreme Court, however, reversed the past two judgments on the grounds that it is not SDF airplanes but is mainly U.S. aircraft that have been emitting excessive noise. It also threw out the earlier decision concerning future damages. However, the court acknowledged that the noise from military aircraft have seriously been disturbing the area residents’ ability to sleep. The top court has already rejected an appeal demanding that U.S. military aircraft stop night flights.

The plaintiffs and their lawyers said that the Supreme Court ruling cannot constitute sound judgement as it is claiming that Japan is not allowed to complain about U.S. military aircraft activities. However, the plaintiffs expressed their determination to never give up and keep fighting for the more than 2.5 million surrounding residents suffering from noise pollution. They said that they are considering filing a fifth round of a similar suit in order to bring back peaceful and quiet nights.

Past related articles:
> High court suspends night flights of SDF aircraft over Atsugi City [July 31, 2015]
> Court bans SDF military night flights [May 22, 2014]
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