Aoshima qualifies scope of disclosure

Tokyo Gov. Yukio Aoshima unveiled a new set of guidelines Friday to widen information disclosure on wining and dining expenses at meetings, but said he will exclude names of metropolitan assembly members from the disclosure for three months — in an apparent bid to save them from being affected in the July 6 Tokyo assembly election.

“If disclosure is arbitrarily demanded, it could seriously affect the election and make a fair election impossible,” Aoshima said at the news conference at City Hall in Shinjuku Ward. The governor claimed that public servants and assembly members attended those meetings on the assumption that their names would not be made public.

Thus a “moratorium period” to let them know about the new disclosure policy is necessary before documents carrying their names and positions are disclosed, he said.

The governor has set the moratorium for government officials at two months, but he gave assembly members three months. Therefore, even if disclosure of a document carrying names of assembly members is requested, it would only be publicized after the July 6 election.

The metropolitan government devised the new guidelines after it lost a high court trial on information disclosure on Feb. 27. The new guidelines stipulate, as stated in the ruling said, the names of public servants, date, places, purpose of meetings, details of expenses and other information should all be disclosed if they are requested based on an information disclosure ordinance.

However, the guidelines include another exception in addition to the assembly members. Many documents exist in which metropolitan officials’ names falsely appear in relation to about 800 million yen in food expenses that they were reimbursed for last year.

If such false documents are publicized with the names of officials who in fact did not participate, disclosure could harm them. Those names will not be made public, the guidelines said.

Reporters criticized the selected disclosure before the election, but the governor merely stressed that he had already abolished such entertainment meetings last fiscal year, and that the exemption will be only applied to documents of fiscal 1995 or before. “I’m just disappointed. That’s all. I want the governor to stop using (his policy slogan) ‘the administration open to the public,'” said Yuichi Goto, a resident of Suginami Ward who has successfully filed a number of information lawsuits against the metro government.