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The Kobe District Court on Monday ordered disabled people, who have been staging a sit-in at a makeshift factory constructed by the city of Kobe, to leave the premises as demanded by the city’s housing and urban development corporation.

More than 10 disabled workers of the Seiko Kyodo Sagyosho group have refused to leave the factory in Kobe’s Nagata Ward despite the corporation’s requests.

The factory is one of six such facilities the city built to support small to medium-size local companies after the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.

The corporation and the disabled workers’ group agreed in 1999 that the workers would vacate the building in March 2000.

However, the group refused to leave the facility, and later the corporation filed a suit with the court demanding they vacate the premises.

There were about 260 companies in the six makeshift factories at one time, but the disabled group is the last.

Seiko Kyodo Sagyosho moved into the factory in March 1995 and began to manufacture socks there, but in 1998 switched to sauce production using fish bones.

The port city of Kobe built a new factory in the city’s Hyogo Ward and the group expressed interest in moving there, but the city rejected the request, saying local industries should be prioritized.

The city also cited the lack of a waste disposal facility for soy sauce production using fish, and the fears of local residents over the smell as reasons for rejecting the proposal. Two court officials arrived at the facility at 10 a.m. Monday, where about 15 people were staging a sit-in with protest banners. The officials asked them to remove all their property from the premises within a month.

Katsuhisa Hoshina, a representative of the group, said the disabled workers don’t want to lose their jobs.

The city claims it provides financial support for the employment of disabled people and cannot make an exception for one group.

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