Atsugi night flight ban, noise complaint ruling upheld by Tokyo high court
Japan's high court has upheld a lower court ruling that ordered a halt to nighttime flights at Naval Air Facility Atsugi by the country's Self-Defense Forces, but flights by U.S. military aircraft will continue to be exempt from the night flight ban.
The ruling by the Tokyo High Court also requires the Japanese government to pay almost $76 milllion in damages to residents who live near the base. In an unprecedented move, noise caused by future flights through 2016 were included in the ruling, the Japan Times reported.
The suit, filed in 2007, sought damages and the suspension of flights between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. at the base used jointly by the SDF and U.S. military forces. A lower court sided with the almost 7,000 plaintiffs last May, but they appealed for longer hours of flight restriction.
Night flights by U.S. military aircraft were not banned, because the Japanese government has no jurisdiction over them, the newspaper reported.
According to the U.S.-Japan treaty obligations, 75 percent of the costs associated with the initial lower court ruling would be covered by the U.S. government — but only if the U.S. agrees to pay, Japanese Ministry of Defense officials told Stars and Stripes last year.