Tokyo loses expenses disclosure appeal

The Tokyo High Court dismissed Feb. 27 an appeal by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government over an earlier ruling that the government disclose information on the government’s wining and dining expenses in 1994.

The Tokyo District Court ruled last June that the government must disclose the concerned documents, saying there is no need to protect the privacy of government officials who attended meetings as public servants. The government appealed to the high court the following month.

In addition to the case Feb. 27, there are six others in progress against the Metropolitan Government concerning public disclosure of entertainment costs and other dubious spending. Government officials said they may withdraw some appeals filed with the high court following the ruling Feb. 27. “(The governor) ought to be ashamed of himself,” said Yuichi Goto, a resident of Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward and one of the plaintiffs in last year’s case.

A citizens’ group led by Goto requested that the government reveal documents on eating and drinking expenses at conferences held by five bureaus from April through December 1994, including those incurred by the bureau handling the waterfront development project at Tokyo Bay. The Metropolitan Government said revealing such information would violate the privacy of and relations with the conference guests, who attended on condition that their names would not be made public.

The high court, however, ruled that the government failed to prove that disclosure would seriously hinder the government’s activities. It pointed out that the documents at issue identify only the purpose, date and place of the conference as well as the positions — but not the names — of those who attended.