Court Rules Blacking Out Of Moritomo Paper Illegal

Court rules blacking out of Moritomo paper illegal

A court in Osaka has ruled that the government's failure to fully disclose a document in connection with a controversial sale of a state-owned land plot was illegal.

The Osaka District Court on Thursday ordered the state to pay about 500 dollars in compensation to a university professor who asked for the disclosure.

The ruling said the initial decision not to fully disclose it was illegal because there were no reasonable grounds.

The paper in question was presented to a local finance bureau in Osaka by Moritomo Gakuen, which planned to open an elementary school in a neighboring city.

The sale at a steep discount of a state-owned land plot to build the new school was at the center of a favoritism controversy dogging Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The professor asked the bureau for access to the paper that stated Moritomo's plan for the school. But most parts of the document he initially received had been blacked out.

Bureau officials said the document included school management know-how. They said making it public would infringe on the school's rights and interests.

The bureau disclosed full contents a few months later. But the professor brought the case to court, saying its initial act of blacking out the paper was illegal.

Presiding Judge Eiji Matsunaga said what the document said was general and abstract, not specific know-how.

The judge also said it is hard to imagine that other school entities would imitate the education methods based on the conservative political beliefs of the former head of Moritomo Gakuen.