Plaintiffs win redress over Yokota noise

The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday ordered the government to pay some 160 million yen in compensation to around 240 plaintiffs who live near the U.S. Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo.

The plaintiffs claim that the noise generated by aircraft taking off and landing at the U.S. base disrupts their lives.

But presiding Judge Toshiko Sekino rejected a plaintiffs petition aimed at suspending flights during the night and early morning. She also turned down residents’ demands for compensation for future disruption expected from the U.S. military’s continued use of the base.

The suit was filed by 325 residents who live in the vicinity of the air base.

Of these, the court determined that 242 live in an area where the Weighted Equivalent Continuous Perceived Noise Level, an international environment index used to gauge airplane noise, stands at 75 or higher. It said residents in this bracket are subjected to disruption beyond tolerable levels.

On the other hand, the court turned down damages requests from plaintiffs who commute to the area in question. , stating that they are exposed to the noise for only a short period of time.

The plaintiffs called for a halt to takeoffs and landings between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., as well as the termination of aircraft training in airspace over the residential and business areas of nearby communities.

But the judge ruled that it was invalid for the plaintiffs to ask the government to halt U.S. operations “over which the (Japanese government’s) jurisdiction does not extend.”