• Kyodo


A citizens’ group in Kanagawa Prefecture has filed a lawsuit against Kanagawa Gov. Hiroshi Okazaki, demanding 1.23 billion yen in damages for his decision to allow the prefectural government to buy a theater in Yokohama.

Eleven plaintiffs, including Kanagawa Citizens’ Ombudsman and writer Hisashi Inoue, are suing the governor, claiming that the purchase of the theater in May at a cost of 1.23 billion yen was illegal and a waste of public money. They demanded that the governor compensate the prefecture.

The group said the theater was suffering management and financial problems under the private company that owned it. Its artistic director, the kabuki actor Bando Tamasaburo, resigned in February over a dispute with management.

The theater’s design does not block outside noise, limiting the types of performances that can be held, meaning income will not cover maintenance costs, said the group.

The theater opened in December, built on land owned by the prefectural government.

Many performances were planned under the direction of Bando during 2002 World Cup soccer finals, to be cohosted with South Korea.

The prefectural government had originally planned to give the theater a subsidy of 500 million yen but decided instead to buy it outright when it ran into trouble.

Airport petition

KOBE (Kyodo) More than 800 citizens took action here Friday in an attempt to stop the city government’s plan to spend 48.4 billion yen this year on a new airport. Opponents decry the planned airport, to be built on an artificial island, as a waste of taxpayer money.

The 834 Kobe residents submitted a petition to Mayor Kazutoshi Sasayama, demanding that he suspend the city’s budgetary allocations for the airport project for the current fiscal year.

They also filed a suit with the Kobe District Court urging the mayor to return 5 billion yen already believed to have been spent on the project this year.

In the petition, the citizens question the need for another airport servicing the Kansai region, which already has Kansai International Airport and Itami airport.

They also accuse the municipal government of going ahead with the project without sufficient public consultation.

The group took similar actions earlier, urging the mayor to return to city coffers funds spent on the airport during the 1999 and 2000 fiscal years.

The city government argues the airport project has been carried out in accordance with required legal procedures.

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