$377m payout to residents over US base noise in Japan

TOKYO • A Japanese court yesterday awarded record compensation to thousands of residents near a United States military base over aircraft noise but rejected a demand to suspend flights at odd hours.

An Okinawa court ordered the Japanese government to pay 30.19 billion yen (S$377.2 million) in damages to about 22,000 residents near Kadena Air Base - more than three times the highest previous award over military noise.

Presiding Judge Tetsuya Fujikura rapped the government, saying the noise burden on residents had continued despite a separate 2009 ruling calling for improvement.

The damage has "caused mental pain, disturbance to sleep and an increase in the risk of negative health effects from developing high blood pressure", he added, according to Jiji Press.

Residents near US military bases in Japan have long complained about noise levels, particularly take-offs and landings at night and in the early morning.

In a victory for the government, however, the Okinawa court refused to order a suspension of early morning and late night flights, following previous rulings on US military noise complaints that had cited the government's inability to control American military activities. The US has several military bases in Japan and stations about 47,000 troops in the country as part of a joint security treaty.

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline '$377m payout to residents over US base noise in Japan'. Print Edition | Subscribe