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Gov't acted illegally by not revealing reason for Moritomo discount: Osaka High Court

Mizuho-no-Kuni Kinen Elementary School, which Moritomo Gakuen was planning to open in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture. (Mainichi)
The building housing the Osaka District Court, the Osaka High Court and the Osaka Summary Court is pictured in Osaka's Kita Ward. (Mainichi/Kazuhisa Soneda)

OSAKA -- The Osaka High Court on Nov. 17 ruled that the central government acted illegally by initially not disclosing the basis for heavily discounting the sale of state land to Osaka-based educational institution Moritomo Gakuen.

Altering a lower court ruling that had ruled the nondisclosure legal, the high court ordered the government to pay 110,000 yen in damages to a Toyonaka Municipal Assembly member in the western Japan prefecture of Osaka who filed the suit. This included damages for also initially failing to disclose the sale price, which the high court deemed illegal.

The lawsuit was the catalyst for the emergence of various problems surrounding Moritomo Gakuen. The latest ruling followed an appeal by the assembly member over the lower court's decision.

In May this year, the Osaka District Court had ruled that the sale price constituted information that should be disclosed, and ordered the government to pay damages of 33,000 yen to the assembly member. However, the district court said that disclosing the reason for discounting the price of the land by some 800 million yen -- due to the discovery of garbage buried at the site -- could have damaged the reputation of an elementary school that Moritomo Gakuen planned to open there. For this reason, the lower court said nondisclosure of the reason for the discount was legal.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife Akie was previously named as honorary principal of the elementary school.

(Japanese original by Hiroshi Muramatsu, Osaka City News Department)

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