(Mainichi: July 31, 2015 – p. 6)
The following is the gist of the ruling on the appeal for the fourth Atsugi Base noise suit handed down on July 30 by the Tokyo High Court:
· Request for injunction for suspending flights by Self-Defense Forces (SDF)
The plaintiffs live in an area for which the level on the scale of Weighted Equivalent Continuous Perceived Noise Level (WECPNC) is 75 or higher. They are suffering from sleep deprivation and other impairments to their daily lives, causing significant damage to the personal interests. The sleep deprivation is a direct hazard to their health and its degree is serious.
Although the Maritime Self-Defense Force has taken measures to suspend flights from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. in principle, the noise level has not improved. Compared to the administrative objectives to be achieved by flights during this timeframe, the damages to the plaintiffs are excessive. It is deemed that the flights violate obligatory measures for protecting residents from disaster as set forth by the SDF Law, and deviate from and abuse the Defense Minister’s operational management authorities; therefore, they are illegal.
However, flights during this timeframe for the purpose of mobilizing the SDF have an extremely high level of necessity and urgency; therefore, it is appropriate to exempt such flights when they are objectively judged to be unavoidable. The plan to relocate the U.S. Navy units currently stationed at the Atsugi Base to the Iwakuni Base in around 2017 has been approved, which may significantly change the noise level. Therefore, the facts admitted by this court will be effective until the end of 2016.
· Request for injunction for suspending flights by the U.S. military
As long as the U.S. military, which is permitted to use the Atsugi Base in accordance with the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, utilizes the base in accordance with the need to conduct flight operations, it is not presumed that either the national government or Defense Minister will restrict the U.S. military’s use of the base. Because there is no administrative action for the national government to grant permission for the U.S. military to use the base, the plaintiffs are requesting an injunction for suspending an administrative action that does not exist; therefore, the court has no option other than to reject the request.