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Japan: Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal Concerning Noises from Daycare

(Jan. 8, 2018) On December 19, 2017, Japan’s Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by a man who had complained about noises from a daycare center for preschool-age children. (Gen Okamoto, “Noisy” Voices of Children Playing at Daycare, Loss of Lawsuit by Man Affirmed, ASAHI SHIMBUN (Dec. 21, 2017) (in Japanese) (it appears that the decision was not officially reported by the Court).)

The first instance court, the Kobe District Court, found the noise level at the border of the daycare’s property to be higher than the legal upper limit when children are playing in the yard. However, the children’s outdoor play is limited to particular times. If an average noise level is calculated, including the time the children are inside, the level is within the limit. Though the Court acknowledged that the noise caused stress to the plaintiff, the Court found that the noise was within socially acceptable limits. (Kobe Dist. Ct., Case No. 2014 (wa) 1195 (Feb. 9. 2017), COURTS.GO.JP (click characters beside PDF icon near the bottom) (in Japanese).)

The text of the decision of the second instance court, the Osaka High Court, is not available. Newspapers reported that the High Court emphasized the public role of daycare centers and affirmed the District Court decision. (Okamoto, supra.)

Many daycare businesses have decided against opening new centers because of opposition from nearby residents in recent years. (Kiyoaki Sugawara, Cases Concerning Noises from Daycares, M&P Legal Note 2017 No. 4-1 (Apr. 30, 2017), Matsuda and Partners website (in Japanese).) The attention generated by the case has led to a great number of follow-up online articles and discussions about noisy daycare centers. (Maki Nagasawa, Mixed Reactions for Man’s Loss of Lawsuit Complaining About “Noisy Daycare,” IRORIO (Dec. 22, 2017) (in Japanese).)