TMCnet News

Tokyo court rejects decision not to disclose diplomatic funds+
[February 28, 2006]

Tokyo court rejects decision not to disclose diplomatic funds+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)TOKYO, Feb. 28_(Kyodo) _ The Tokyo District Court rescinded Tuesday a 2001 Foreign Ministry decision to reject a citizens group's request to disclose documents on discretionary diplomatic funds.

Presiding Judge Tasuku Daimon, in handing down the decision in the plaintiff's favor, said the ministry's criteria for allocating the expenses of these funds are ambiguous, noting that some of these funds were spent on such activities as receptions and liquor purchases that do not necessarily fall into the category of diplomatic expenses.

The three-judge panel acted on a suit filed by the Joho Kokai Shimin Center, a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization headed by lawyer Toshiaki Takahashi.

The ruling said the center asked the Foreign Ministry in April 2001 to release documents listing expenses of diplomatic funds spent in February and March of 2000 by the foreign minister's secretariat and Japanese embassies in the United States, France, China and the Philippines.

The group made the request under the Japanese version of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act -- a law concerning access to information held by administrative organizations that came into effect in Japan in April 2001.

But the Foreign Ministry rejected the request, saying that disclosure of the information requested might have an adverse effect on Japan's foreign affairs services.

In April 2004, the Foreign Ministry made public part of the files requested, acting upon a proposal by the Cabinet Office's information disclosure screening commission.

The commission proposed disclosing information on subjects, dates and total expenses of large-scale receptions, liquor purchases, gift costs, purchases of Japanese-style paintings for promotion of Japanese culture, and limousine costs for visiting VIPs.

The citizens group went to court demanding the Foreign Ministry disclose more information.

[ Back To's Homepage ]