Court orders GoJ to pay ¥30 billion for Kadena noise

The Okinawa branch of Naha District Court ordered Thursday the central government to pay just over ¥30 billion yen to residents near Kadena Air Base as damages for past aircraft noise. The compensation for the aircraft noise is the highest of base noise-related lawsuits in Japan so far.

The money will be divided between 22,005 residents who were plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

However, the court rejected the request for compensation for future noise. It also declined to order a halt to late-night and early-morning flights stating neither the court nor the central government has the right to restrict the U.S. military’s activities.

Handing down the ruling, Presiding Judge Tetsuya Fujikura said there has been no change in the noise damage prevention measures taken by Japan and the United States since the previous Kadena noise pollution court case, as “Illegal damage caused to neighborhood residents has been left unattended irresponsibly.”

In their suit, the plaintiffs claimed that the noise pollution in their neighborhoods has grown worse because activity on the base has increased, and the situation runs counter to efforts to reduce the base-hosting burden.

The court ordered the central government to pay a compensation of ¥7,000 per month to each to the plaintiffs living in areas fierher away from the base, and ¥35,000 per month to households hear the base where the noise levels are higher.

On its part, the United States is rejecting damage payments ordered in the court rulings over noise pollution from U.S. military aircraft operating from bases in Japan.

Although Article 18 of the bilateral SOFA stipulates that the U.S. should pay 75 percent of damages when the U.S. military alone is responsible, and half when both sides have responsibility, the U.S. has taken a position that U.S. military aircraft are performing activities necessary for the U.S.-Japan security treaty on facilities provided by the Japanese government, and as such, damages related to noise pollution should not be shouldered by the U.S.