Court refuses to order the U.S. to return citizen's land

The Tokyo High Court on March 23 dismissed a landowner's demand that the Japanese and U.S. governments return his land that is currently occupied by the U.S. Navy in its Kamiseya communication facility in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Mori Shigenori, 63-year-old landowner, filed the lawsuit in 1998 demanding that the U.S. forces return his land to him on the grounds that it is no longer in use.

The court upheld the 2002 lower court decision that the U.S. government has the primary right to decide if the base still may be used.

Angered by the ruling, Mori expressed his determination to appeal to the Supreme Court, saying, "A truly independent country should urge the U.S. to return the base site which is not in use."

Akahata on March 24 criticized the judge for ignoring the fact that the base is no longer in use and indicating that the landowner cannot use his land as long as the U.S. refuses to return the base site. It stressed that the judicial system of an independent nation must not make such a decision favoring a foreign military. (end)

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