OSAKA — The Osaka High Court on Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling in March 1997 that ordered the Osaka Municipal Government to disclose the names and titles of those who were wined and dined by the city with taxpayers’ money.
Presiding Judge Takiko Takeda said that the privacy of those who attended dinner meetings paid for with taxpayers’ money will not be infringed upon by revealing their identities because the dinners were part of their official business with the city.
A local citizens’ group filed the lawsuit in July 1992, demanding that the city government make full disclosure of all documents on municipal expenses for dinner meetings held between July 1988 and March 1992. After an advisory panel urged the city to partially disclose such documents, the city released 450 documents in April 1996 revealing the dates, locations, costs and purposes of the meetings.
Only after the Osaka District Court ordered the city government to disclose the names of those who were entertained did the city disclose the names of the organizations they belonged to. Kimio Tsuji, lawyer for the plaintiffs, said that the ruling by the Osaka High Court set a precedent, implying that the disclosure of such information is becoming common sense.
The ruling will affect the information disclosure bill now being discussed in the Diet as the bill only demands the disclosure of the titles of certain public servants, not the names, he said.
After the ruling, the plaintiffs urged the city government not to appeal, but to disclose the documents in question without delay. A city official said the government will examine the ruling before deciding what to do.
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