As for the fourth round of suit against the tremendous clamor emanating from fighter jets of the US base at Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture, both of the plaintiffs and the defendant, the state of Japan, have appealed to the Supreme Court. Residents’ claim to stop flights of US military planes, a culprit to produce din hazardous onto human health, was not approved at the higher court. Health damages and sufferings on the side of inhabitants continue. No solution has been made yet.
STOP FLIGHTS OF US MILITARY AIRCRAFT!
The Tokyo High Court recently gave judgment that the plaintiffs would be compensated for damages to be inflicted in the future, in light of the ruling of the Yokohama District Court that approved suspension of flight mission at night and early morning of the Japan’s Self Defense Forces.
Who is to be Blamed?
Mr. Kaneko Tokio, Vice President of the plaintiffs’ group, reported in the meeting held soon after the court ruling. He said, ‘as for indemnification, the state will pay additional compensation for a period until December 31, 2016, to the portion for the past months until May 14, 2015, when the court trial was finalized. This is for the first time that the judiciary approved reparation for damages to be incurred in the future. That is historic.’
‘We, the plaintiffs, have enjoyed a big advance thanks to tenacious actions across the country staged by people fighting against roaring sound of flight missions, and in particular, enthusiastic contribution of competent lawyers.’
Mr. Ohnami Shuji, President of a local anti-sound citizens’ group, Atsugi Kichi Bakuon Boshi Kisei Domei and Vice President of the plaintiffs’ group, told: ‘we have won partially. Fundamentally speaking, no judgment was given on the US fighter planes. It is the aircraft that disturbs us. Roar of jets spoils our health, life and mental steadiness, so the basic problem is to have a solution to prevent livelihood from destruction. We appeal to the Supreme Court. We will begin a fifth round of suit.’
The plaintiffs won a certain victory in the judgment of the High Court, but they could not gain a key answer because of a thick barrier of the Status of Forces Agreement based on the US-Japan Security Treaty. The court ruling disclosed the real evil of the noise.
It was in 1975, 40 years ago, that citizens, twelve plaintiffs, began to fight. Today seven organizations covering approximately 36 thousand residents throughout the country involve in litigations to sue against the military hazards. The recent ruling on the Atsugi case admits sleep disturbance, which means a success won by long and hard struggles which pursued hopes of residents.
Judgment Admits Physical Damages
The court ruling does not say directly about ‘physical damages’ in terms of content of harms, but explains that ‘the level of noise near the Atsugi airfield has reached an extent which may deteriorate in general human health in the implications of hazardous sounds’. It mentions ‘relations between the noises and health damages are plausible’.
The ruling of the first trial said that ‘sleep disturbance is so serious that it aggravates human health’. The attorneys appraise the higher court’s decision, saying that ‘it has surpassed the first one by an inch’.
The Tokyo High Court rejected the assertion of the state government that it would refuse residents’ claims or reduce compensations, concerning ‘approaching dangers’ on the military base. The court criticizes the responsibility of the state, saying ‘in spite of the three final decisions the state remains negligent in resolving the illegal situation’ and that compensation may not be affected on account of that.
President of the plaintiffs’ group of the fourth suit, Mr. Fujita Eiji, sent a message to the meeting as he was absent due to poor health: ‘I hope you will prepare completely for a victorious ruling at the Supreme Court. Simultaneously please get ready for organizing the fifth round of suit’.
August 18, 2015