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Itoman and Tomigusuku in fight over waste treatment facility

Date Posted: 2003-02-08

Itoman and Tomigusuku cities are at each others throat over compensation for environmental damage caused by a waste treatment facility. The facility, located within the Itoman City limits, is used jointly by the two cities. Itoman is demanding payment from Tomigusuku for damages.

Papers filed at Naha District Court indicate mayors of both cities negotiated a contract for Tomigusuku to pay Itoman 200 million in compensation to residents of Itoman City. The agreement was for money to go to residents living in the vicinity of the plant. The deal was in exchange for Itoman agreeing to host the facility. When Itoman sent its neighbor the invoice, however, the Tomigusuku mayor balked and refused to pay without authorization from the city assembly.

Tomigusuku Mayor Homei Kinjo says he regards the paper both mayors signed as a memorandum of understanding, and not a binding contract. I drafted and signed a paper with Itoman City Mayor, but its not a contract. When the city needs to pay that much money, I need to get the blessings of our assembly. I believe that it would be the same case with Itoman City, if this were the other way around, Kinjo says.

The district court agreed. In its ruling handed down on Jan. 21 the court decided that a city assembly decision is necessary, and the mayor cannot commit to such expenditure only by himself.

Itoman City Mayor Chosei Yamazato disagrees. A contract is a contract. He promised to pay Itoman City 200 million and signed the paper. He should honor it, Yamazato argues. Itoman City, disagreeing with the lower court ruling, filed its case to a higher court Monday.

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