• Kyodo

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A city assembly has refused to allow elementary school students to observe one of its plenary sessions, calling into question its self-declared label as “an assembly that is open to the public.”

Officials of Gamagori, Aichi Prefecture, said Tuesday that about 10 public school students from the city who visited the assembly on Monday, accompanied by parents, were denied access to the public gallery. Instead, they had to watch the proceedings on a TV monitor.

The group had contacted the assembly’s secretariat a few days earlier about their scheduled field trip to the assembly on Monday, which was a school holiday.

According to secretariat officials, the city in principle does not allow elementary school pupils and younger children to observe assembly sessions without permission from the speaker.

“We stuck to the basic rules as there was no precedent to follow in such a case,” said Toshibumi Ozaki, head of the secretariat. Apparently sensing criticism over the city’s handling of the case, Ozaki indicated a need to review the regulations.

At the national level, the House of Representatives allows elementary school children to view plenary sessions from public seats if they are accompanied by parents. The Upper House does not permit anyone under 10 years old “in principle” to observe plenary sessions.

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