IWAKUNI, Yamaguchi -- Residents near a U.S. military base in this west Japan city announced May 2 that they are set to assemble a group of plaintiffs to launch a lawsuit against the central government, demanding a ban on U.S. military and Japan Self-Defense Forces aircraft flights plus compensation for noise pollution.
The move was revealed to reporters in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, by a group of plaintiffs and supporters behind a similar 2009 lawsuit over flights from U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. In that suit, the court ordered the Japanese government to pay about 735 million yen (roughly $5.65 million) in damages for past noise pollution. However, the plaintiffs' demand on appeal for a flight ban plus future liability was dismissed.
In March 2018, a carrier airwing of some 60 planes from Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, was transferred to Iwakuni as part of a U.S. military force redistribution, doubling the number of aircraft at the base and making it one of the largest airbases in the East Asia. Residents have claimed that noise issues near the base have worsened following the relocation.
The resident group is preparing the suit and aims to file with the Yamaguchi District Court this autumn. It also plans to gather plaintiffs after holding an information session at the Iwakuni City Culture Center at 2 p.m. on May 28.
(Japanese original by Norio Oyama, Iwakuni Local Bureau)