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Locals around Tokyo's Yokota base file suit seeking Osprey flight ban, compensation

An Osprey aircraft taking off from U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is seen in this photo taken in the Okinawa Prefecture city of Ginowan on June 11, 2014. (Mainichi/Hiroyuki Miura)

TOKYO -- Some 1,280 residents in the area around the U.S. Air Force's Yokota Air Base in west Tokyo have filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government urging a full-scale ban on flights by Osprey transport aircraft and compensation for the noise pollution.

    In the class action filed with the Tokyo District Court's Tachikawa branch on June 20, residents complained that Osprey aircraft "make more noise and have a greater risk of crashing than other aircraft models," and called for a full suspension of flights during both day and night.

    The plaintiffs have referred to this proceeding as the "third new Yokoto Air Base public nuisance lawsuit," and are also seeking to widen the time limit on flights by U.S. military and Japan Self-Defense Forces aircraft. This is the first Osprey flight suspension request since the aircraft were deployed in 2018 to Yokota Air Base, which straddles the capital's city of Fussa and other municipalities.

    As for compensation, the plaintiffs are demanding a total of some 1 billion yen (roughly $7.3 million), which is equivalent to a monthly payment of 22,000 yen ($160) each for the past three years, and also requested payment for future damage until no noises can be heard.

    Hiroshi Okumura, the 71-year-old lead plaintiff, said, "The abnormally low-frequency noise emitted by the aircraft continues to rob families of time to bond. We want to be freed from living in the fear that they (Osprey) may crash someday."

    (Japanese original by Masamitsu Kurokawa, Tama General Bureau, and Yusuke Kato, Machida Resident Bureau)

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