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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 September 11 - 17  > Naha court rejects plaintiffs’ request to halt flights by US military aircraft, cuts damages for noise pollution
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2019 September 11 - 17 [US FORCES]

Naha court rejects plaintiffs’ request to halt flights by US military aircraft, cuts damages for noise pollution

September 12, 2019
The Fukuoka High Court Naha Branch on September 11 issued a ruling slashing the amount of compensation for health damages from the noise pollution caused by U.S. aircraft, upholding the lower court decision to reject plaintiffs’ demands for a halt to early morning and nighttime flights of U.S. military aircraft.

The plaintiffs and their lawyers issued a statement expressing their determination to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The lawsuit was filed in 2011 by about 22,000 residents living near the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa as the third action in a series of legal battles against the central government over the noise pollution caused by U.S. warplanes stationed at the Kadena base.

The lower court ruling in February 2017 dismissed the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction against flights of U.S. military aircraft, but ordered the state to pay to the plaintiffs more than 30 billion yen in compensation, the highest in court battles of this kind.

The high court in its ruling acknowledged that the plaintiffs have been exposed to noises exceeding the maximum permissive level. It, however, stated that it is the U.S. government that should bear the responsibility for damages and that the Japanese government is not in the position to be able to suspend flights by U.S. military aircraft. On top of this, the court slashed the amount of compensation by about four billion yen from the previous court order without providing any convincing explanations to justify this action.

At a press conference after the ruling, plaintiffs’ group head Arakawa Shusei said, “We will continue fighting in order to achieve our goal of regaining quiet nights.”

Past related article:
> 22,058 residents in class action suit over US Kadena AB noise pollution [April 29, 2011]
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