In a rare ruling by a Japanese court, air force and Self-Defense Forces flights scheduled at nighttime and early morning at a nearby Tokyo base in Atsugi have been suspended. The decision was handed down as residents of nearby towns and cities have complained of aircraft noise, which violates their personal rights.
7,000 residents from eight cities including Ayase and Yamato have filed the complaint to the Yokohama District Court. The plaintiffs protested that nighttime and early morning flights in the nearby air base used jointly by the U.S. Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces were disturbing them with their aircraft noise. The base in question is located in Kanagawa Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo and extends its 5 million square meters of land across the cities of Ayase, Ebina and Yamato. The complaint said that the noise was a violation of their rights as indicated in the Constitution, thus they have sought for the suspension of flights during the time when most would be resting. According to the international index of aircraft noise, the Weighted Equivalent Continuous Perceived Noise Level, the area near the base encounter a noise level greater than 75. The plaintiffs are now seeking damages worth 23,000 yen per person and in former rulings by a Japanese court, most plaintiffs are awarded that when noise levels go past 75.
The suit is the first time that suspension of flights have been sought as past cases only involved paying damages to the complainants. However, this is not the first of its kind filed in a Japanese court, which refers to the base involved. In fact, three other cases of the same complaints have been filed before but this is so far the first time that such a ruling has been handed down. While the state objected and argued that the noise is within the acceptable and tolerable levels, the plaintiffs underscored that operations in the base are still under the jurisdiction of Japan’s Defense Ministry.
[via Nikkei Asian Review]
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