Yokohama court bans Japanese pilots from flying missions at night
A court yesterday ordered suspension of night flights from a joint US-Japanese base after residents complained about the noise caused by fighter planes.
The Yokohama district court ruled in favour of 7,000 people living near Atsugi Base, which is jointly operated by the United States navy and Japan's marine self-defence force, saying Japanese planes must not fly between 10pm and 6am.
The ruling also ordered the government to pay about seven billion yen (HK$535 million) in compensation to plaintiffs, but said it could not tell the US military to ground its planes.
"The government does not possess power to order US forces in Japan to suspend flights," presiding judge Hiroyuki Samura said, public broadcaster NHK reported.
Legal actions seeking damages over noisy military flights have been filed in various places near US and Japanese military bases nationwide.
Previously, Japanese courts turned down residents petitioning for a suspension of flights, but have ordered that the government pay compensation over noise.
About 40,000 US military personnel are stationed in Japan under a security alliance. Most live in Okinawa, Japan's southernmost prefecture.
While many regional economies receive significant boosts from the presence of the US bases, some people living nearby complain of the noise and danger of accidents, as well as the crimes committed by US services personnel.