Court: Japan must release Okinawa papers

April 9, 2010 at 10:10 PM

TOKYO, April 9 (UPI) -- A Japanese court ordered the government Friday to release documents on the return of Okinawa to Japanese control in 1972.

The Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of 25 plaintiffs who argued the documents show secret financial agreements requiring Japan to pick up costs that have not been disclosed, Kyodo News reported. Presiding Judge Norihiko Sugihara ordered the government to pay each of the plaintiffs 100,000 yen ($1,073) as a penalty for violating their right to information.

The plaintiffs sued the government last year after requests for information on the 1972 reversion were rejected. The government said at the time the documents being sought were no longer available.

Lawyers involved in the case said information on the 1972 agreement could lead to re-examination of the treaty that has made Okinawa the site of most U.S. bases in Japan.

''We expect this ruling to provide an opportunity to reexamine the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and U.S. bases in Japan, and seek how Japan can achieve peace,'' the lawyers said.

Takichi Nishiyama, who was convicted in the 1970s for his reporting on Okinawa in Mainichi Shimbun, was among the plaintiffs. He called the ruling "revolutionary."

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