The Supreme Court refused Tuesday to acknowledge some of the compensation a lower court awarded residents around the U.S. Yokota Air Base in Tokyo for aircraft noise, shaving some 230 million yen from the previous 3.25 billion yen total.
Three of the five justices on the top court’s Third Petty Bench rejected the Tokyo High Court decision in 2005 to raise the amount of compensation by extending the deadline on which damages were calculated from the day the legal proceedings ended to the day the ruling was issued.
However, one of the two dissenting judges called for further review of legal precedent.
The high court increased the amount by factoring in the aircraft noise that occurred between the end of the court proceedings and the ruling, which amounted to some 230 million yen.
The government appealed the high court decision, but of the 3.25 billion yen, about 3 billion yen remained uncontested by either the government or the plaintiffs.
Last week, the Supreme Court turned down an appeal by the plaintiffs, who demanded U.S. military flights be suspended in the vicinity of the base from 9 p.m. through 7 a.m. daily.
About 5,900 residents in municipalities in suburban Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture, including those who live under flight paths, sued the government in succession beginning in April 1996, demanding the suspension of flights and damages for aircraft noise.
In May 2002, the Hachioji branch of the Tokyo District Court ordered the government to pay about 2.4 billion yen to the plaintiffs, including those already deceased, in compensation for past noise.
However, the district court dismissed the plaintiffs’ demand that nighttime and early morning flights be suspended at the base on the grounds that this would be beyond the jurisdiction of the Japanese government.
In November 2005, the high court upheld the district court’s rejection of the flight suspensions but raised the amount of compensation.
“The noise will not abate in the future, and the court took into account the burden on the plaintiffs, who have to file suit for damages after the legal proceedings concluded,” the high court said in the ruling.
The government appealed the decision, saying the ruling violates Supreme Court precedents that do not accept the calculation of damages caused after proceedings end.
The base, with a single 3,350-meter-long runway, mainly serves as the transport hub for U.S. forces in the region.
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