In what is the third lawsuit over noise pollution originating from the U.S. military’s Kadena Air Base, plaintiffs filed suit against the U.S. with the Okinawa Branch of the Naha District Court, demanding the suspension of flights early in the morning and at night. The Okinawa Times learned on Aug. 18 that the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo has informed the Japanese government of its refusal to respond to the lawsuit.
In response to the Supreme Court’s inquiry about whether or not the U.S. intends to respond to the suit, the Embassy notified the court on July 14 of their refusal through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The plaintiffs claim that they can file a civil suit against foreign governments in Japan, based on the Act on the Civil Jurisdiction of Japan with respect to a Foreign State, etc., enacted in 2010. The U.S., however, responded by saying, “The law does not apply to military activities, official duties, and training.”
Furthermore, the U.S. argued that the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty stipulates that unlawful acts by the U.S. military shall be handled by Japan, and added, “The U.S. is not a party concerned in this lawsuit.”
The plaintiffs filed the suit in November 2012, but the complaint, still being kept at the Okinawa court, has not been delivered to the U.S. and thus court proceedings have not begun yet.
“There are no privileges, treaties, or international customary laws that exempt jurisdiction,” said the plaintiffs’ lawyers, criticizing the response by the U.S. As for the court that inquired about the U.S. intention, the lawyers said, “The court took an unnecessary step and should simply deliver the complaint to the U.S. to begin the hearing.” (Abridged)