• Compiled From Kyodo, Staff Reports

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has ordered a Tokyo-based French school operated by the French government to pay about 100 million yen in taxes as the school is not eligible to receive tax exemptions.

The move comes a week after a French-language teacher and 20 others sued Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara over what they claim were disparaging remarks about the French language.

Following the issuance of an order by the metro government in May 2004, Lycee franco-japonais de Tokyo, based in Chiyoda Ward, had agreed to pay the amount, which was levied as a fixed-asset tax and urban planning tax for the 2000-2004 period, the officials said.

The school has yet to obtain the status of a legally incorporated educational institution, a condition for receiving tax incentives from the metro government, they said.

“France does not have the idea of ‘incorporated educational institution,’ ” said Takehiko Anan of the metro government’s bureau of taxation.

Anan said that was why it took several years before the French side agreed to apply to be authorized as an incorporated educational institution and to pay the taxes before the school gets the authorization.

Most schools catering to foreign children in Tokyo have the metro government authorization as incorporated educational institutions, which are exempt from the fixed property tax and the city planning tax, he said.

The metro government had accorded the school exceptional tax-free treatment, accepting its claim that it was simply behind schedule in applying for the status.

However, the school did not take prompt action in obtaining the status and the metro government decided to impose the taxes in May last year, citing a need to ensure taxation fairness.

Lycee franco-japonais de Tokyo was founded in 1975. It stands on a site owned by the French government.

Last week, Malik Berkane, 46, principal of a French-language school in Tokyo, filed a suit at the Tokyo District Court, along with 20 other French and Japanese, demanding an apology and 500,000 yen in compensation for each plaintiff over remarks made by Ishihara on Oct. 19.

Ishihara said French did not qualify as an international language as it was a language in which you could not count.

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