Lawsuits against Odakyu project from ’94 rejected

by Jun Hongo

The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday rejected lawsuits filed by 21 Tokyo residents who demanded that a permit extension allowing Odakyu Railways Co. to finish building roads and elevated railways between Kitami and Setagaya-Daita stations in Setagaya Ward be canceled.

The land ministry issued a six-year construction permit for the project in 1994. An extension was granted in 2005 that expires later this year.

The plaintiffs argued that the first permit was deceptive because it gave the impression that the project would be completed swiftly. They demanded the permit be canceled and the project be scrapped on grounds that Odakyu was not properly carrying out its proposals.

In rejecting the suit, presiding Judge Tasuku Daimon deemed the ministry’s approval legitimate and ruled that both the government and Odakyu handled the extension in an appropriate fashion.

The project has been unpopular. When construction began in 1994, local residents filed separate lawsuits demanding its cancellation because of noise pollution.

In October 2001, the Tokyo District Court deemed the original construction permit flawed on the grounds that the government turned a blind eye to public noise concerns.

But the Tokyo High Court overturned the ruling in 2003, stating the plaintiffs had no right to sue because they did not own land directly affected by the elevated railroads. The court also said the government had not abused its authority in approving the project.