Osaka District Court on Thursday rejected a petition to overturn the Finance Ministry's decision not to disclose documents related to a document-tampering scandal that led to the suicide of a ministry official.

Presiding Judge Atsushi Tokuchi found that the refusal to disclose even the existence of such documents was legal. The ministry had voluntarily submitted to prosecutors administrative documents on the scandal linked to the discounted sale of state land to school operator Moritomo Gakuen.

The court dismissed the request by Masako Akagi, 52, the widow of Toshio, a former employee at the ministry's Kinki Local Finance Bureau who took his own life over the scandal.

The plaintiff plans to appeal the ruling.

Akagi requested in 2021 the disclosure of the administrative documents submitted to prosecutors by the ministry and the Kinki bureau, saying that they contained details of how Toshio's superior ordered the document-tampering.

But the ministry decided not to disclose them. It even refused to say whether such documents existed, claiming that making such disclosure "could hinder the maintenance of public safety and order."

In the ruling, Tokuchi said that "disclosing the existence of documents could make it possible to tell whether they were voluntarily submitted to prosecutors and infer the scope and method of investigations based on the document name."

Accepting the plaintiff's petition "could cause problems such as the destruction of criminal evidence in future investigations," he concluded.

When the ruling was being read aloud in court, Akagi collapsed from her chair, and her lawyer had to support her.

"It's the most terrible ruling," Akagi said in a statement.