Tokyo court awards damages over noise pollution from Yokota base but rejects demand to have flights curtailed


The Tokyo High Court on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling and ordered the government to pay damages for noise caused by aircraft taking off and landing at the U.S. military’s Yokota base in Fussa, western Tokyo, but rejected the plaintiffs’ demand that flights be halted at night and early in the morning.

The state was ordered to pay a total of ¥769 million to the plaintiffs, who live near the base, for past noise pollution from the facility.

Presiding Judge Shigeru Nakanishi said that the noise levels at or above 75 on the Weighted Equivalent Continuous Perceived Noise Level, an internationally recognized measurement of aircraft noise, “went beyond socially tolerable limits.”

But the court rejected the plaintiffs’ demand that the government pay for future noise damage, with the judge saying, “There is potential for the base’s use status to change, depending on the domestic and international situation.”

“Even if it were limited to an extremely short span, it cannot be said that there is necessity or rationality to it,” he added.

The ruling touched upon low-frequency sound damage from the U.S. Air Force’s CV-22 Osprey aircraft deployed to the Yokota base in October last year. “A large-scale investigation by the Japanese government and the release of the results are desirable,” the judge said.

“The ruling was disappointing,” Toshimi Nakajima, acting head of the plaintiffs group, said at a news conference. “Everything would be resolved if the flights are halted and the illegal sound pollution is eliminated.”

In a similar lawsuit over noise from the Atsugi military base in Kanagawa Prefecture, the Supreme Court in 2016 ruled against a halt to late-night and early-morning flights and damages for future noise pollution.

Coronavirus banner