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Seattle Journal of Technology, Environmental & Innovation Law

Abstract

In 1954, when historically significant clays and clay pots were found in the Iba district of Shizuoka prefecture, the city applied to the prefectural education committee for a historic site designation. The committee granted this designation to the city..

However, in 1973 the education committee lifted its permission to promote development around the location. Historians have sought revocation of this decision under the Administrative Case Litigation Act (ACLA), but the Supreme Court has denied standing. By denying standing, the Japanese Supreme Court allows the prefecture to destroy a historical site.

First, this paper seeks to discuss the doctrine of standing in administrative litigation. The general public typically takes great pride in their cultural heritage, yet they seldom have the ability to defend these interests and values. The judiciary is required to limit the scope of plaintiffs who can bring cases to protect cultural heritage sites. The revised ACLA broadened the scope of standing and established new litigations such as action for injunction, and mandamus action. These litigations make the Japanese judiciary switch from concrete to abstract judicial reviews.

In the Japanese judiciary system, standing doctrine functions to limit the scope of those who have standing. For example, the judiciary is likely to deny standing to litigants suing on behalf of wildlife and wild animals.

Second, this paper reviews the efforts of local governments to maintain autonomy when making decisions regarding cultural heritage. As a result of Japan’s aging society, the population in small cities and towns are decreasing rapidly. Local governments prefer using historical or cultural sites to revitalize towns and entice more people into visiting. The Act on Protection of Cultural Properties (APCP) is a Japanese statute originally established in 1949. The law aims to preserve and put to use cultural property for Japanese people. When it was amended in 2018, it shifted the towns’ focus from preservation of cultural heritage to revitalization of small towns. Cities and towns undergo financial burdens to prepare applications for their registration as world heritage sites and then to maintain the quality of the heritage site. The registration may promise to bring more people into the small region, but may also change the quiet life amidst nature. These cities and towns are seeking to maintain a balance between protection of the environment and their cultural heritage, and revitalization. The interests of citizens and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become disenfranchised because they are often unable to attain standing. Enlarging the doctrine of standing to allow these groups to attain standing would promote balance by allowing individual and NGO interests to bring suit whereas before they were prohibited from protecting their interests.

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