The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled Thursday that the sailors for now don't have to make their legal claims in Japan.
Their lawsuit accuses Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the Japanese government of conspiring to keep secret the extent of the radiation leak following a 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands of people.
The plaintiffs arrived off the coast of Fukushima aboard the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan and other vessels to provide humanitarian aid a day after the quake.
They filed their lawsuit in 2012 in federal court in San Diego.
An email to an attorney for Tokyo Electric was not immediately returned.