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Court annuls Okinawa move to disclose agreement with U.S. military over use of road

Kyodo

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A court in Okinawa on Tuesday struck down a decision by the prefectural government to disclose an agreement with the U.S. military on the use of a public road without consenting with Japan or the U.S.

The Naha District Court said that if the documents are disclosed despite an agreement between Japan and the United States that requires both parties’ consent, “it is clear that (such disclosure) would hamper future negotiations with the U.S. government.”

The lawsuit, filed by the central government, concerned a 1990 agreement between Japan, the U.S. and the Okinawa government on the joint use by the two countries of a road in the eastern part of Okinawa’s main island that leads to the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area.

The two countries had agreed that neither side would disclose such documents without the consent of the other, according to the complaint.

But the prefectural government decided in February 2015 to disclose the documents at the request of an Okinawa resident under an information disclosure ordinance. The documents were not made public however after the district court in March 2015 agreed with the central government to suspend disclosure.

The central government argued in the trial that disclosure would undermine the trust between Japan and the U.S.

The Okinawa government contended that the documents contain few secrets, and that if they could not be disclosed, no document could be made public so long as Washington refused.

It said this would undermine the meaning of the information disclosure law.