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Landowners nixed right to on-site check of base land

Date Posted: 2003-03-08

Japanese landowners have been rebuffed in their attempt to physically visit their property, which is being used by the U.S. military. Naha District Court made the ruling, saying there was no need for landowners and their attorneys to have access to the actual land.

The landowners and their attorneys were refused the entry to the bases to inspect their land first hand. The inspection demands were a part of a lawsuit landowners had taken the Japanese Government to the court in order to regain the use of their land.

The 30 plaintiffs claim that the military is not currently using their land for any purpose, and the land should thus be returned to its owners. The owners said they wanted to gain access to the lots in order to prove their claim.

The Naha District Court ruled that the landowners and their legal representatiaves could do their inspections from outside the base fences. Government representatives had signed the plaintiffs’ lands for base use in both 1995 and 1998, after the landowners refused to sign the leases. Attorneys for the landowners argue that since the land lots in question are not in use, it means that they are no more needed and should be returned.

The court disagreed and ruled that the leases were signed according to the law, and thus the plaintiffs and their representatives had no right to go to the land even if the land was located outside the base fence. In such case, the ruling said, “the owners and their lawyers could not approach the land closer than to a certain limit.”

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