• Kyodo


The Nagoya District Court on Wednesday ordered two government ministries to disclose part of the documents they sent to the Bureau International des Expositions seeking approval to hold the 2005 Aichi World Expo.

However, the court said documents related to discussions between the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Foreign Ministry on what would happen if the event were to be canceled — which a local ombudsman group had demanded be made public — could remain confidential.

The lawsuit was filed by a Nagoya-based citizens’ group seeking disclosure of administrative documents related to the legal responsibility and compensation obligations of the organizers and the central and local governments in the event of a cancellation.

The two ministries had argued that disclosing such information would damage the bond of trust between the government and the BIE.

In principle, the BIE does not disclose documents related to internal discussions.

In handing down Wednesday’s ruling, presiding Judge Yukio Kato said there should be a clear line between documents used to discuss issues and documents of the discussions themselves.

“Just because documents were used during the discussions does not mean everything can be hidden from the public,” he said.

However, he also took into account the BIE’s policy on secrecy and ruled it was natural for the international body to expect the same rules to apply to its member nations.

As such, the judge said, it was understandable that the ministries refused to disclose the information.

The ombudsman group filed the lawsuit in May 2002, saying a huge amount of taxpayer money was being pumped into the expo and that there were both pros and cons to Japan hosting the event.

“Information regarding what would happen in the event the expo were canceled is extremely important reference material for the general public when deciding whether to go ahead with the project or not,” the group said in a statement.

Officials at the METI office in charge of promoting the expo said it was regrettable that the court ordered part of the documents to be disclosed, and that the issue would be discussed among relevant parties to decide whether to file an appeal.

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