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The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by the city of Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, seeking to stop construction of a pachinko parlor in an industrial zone.

The city filed the lawsuit in July 1994 in accordance with a 1983 local ordinance restricting pachinko and other gaming parlors and “love hotels” to commercial districts. The ordinance aims to go beyond the national Entertainment Establishments Control Law, which says such facilities must be kept to a minimum to preserve the environment.

The Kobe District Court rejected the city’s suit, saying the national law sets standards for regulating entertainment and amusement businesses, and thus local governments cannot exceed it by setting their own bylaws.

The Osaka High Court upheld the lower court’s ruling, and the city appealed to the Supreme Court.

Although the top court did not uphold the lower court decisions, it rejected the city’s appeal by saying local governments cannot file suits against its citizens demanding a court order to make them comply with bylaws.

Takarazuka Mayor Taiichiro Shoji said it was regrettable the top court said local governments cannot obtain court action to enforce compliance with their ordinances.

“The court did not recognize the spirit of the ordinance that we established to create a better environment for residents,” the mayor said. “We will examine the ruling and decide what to do next.”

Yuzuru Kawabata, a local leader of residents in the city, also lamented the decision.

“National laws are not enough to protect our lives. It is only natural for citizens to hope to create ordinances to go beyond national laws,” he said.

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