Japan ordered to pay damages for noise at US military base

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A Japanese court ordered the state Thursday to pay damages to residents near a military base in western Japan due to excessive noise caused by planes.

It was the first ruling over noise at Iwakuni Air Station, 750 kilometres south-west of Tokyo, jointly used by US and Japanese forces, Kyodo News agency reported.

The court ordered the state to pay 558 million yen (4.7 million US dollars) in total damages.

A total of 654 residents filed the suit in 2009 at the Yamaguchi District Court’s Iwakuni branch, seeking compensation totaling roughly 1.8 billion yen (15 million US dollars) for past noise, as well as the suspension of some flights, Kyodo said.

The state argued that noise had been mitigated since a replacement airstrip located 1 kilometre offshore began operations in 2010.

The plaintiffs had also demanded that the planned relocation of US carrier-borne fighter jets to Iwakuni from the Atsugi base near Tokyo in 2017 be cancelled, as well as a total flight ban for MV-22 Osprey aircraft. The court rejected those demands.

The Iwakuni base is expected to become the largest US military base in East Asia through the reconfiguration of US forces in Japan.

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