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Prince Hotels Ordered to Pay $290 million yen (US $3.067 million) for
 Refusing Teachers Union Annual Meeting at the Grand Prince
 Hotel New Takanawa


Kyodo News International, TokyoMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jul. 28, 2009--TOKYO -- The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday ordered Prince Hotels Inc. to pay about 290 million yen in compensation to the Japan Teachers Union and its members, as sought by the plaintiffs, for canceling reservations the union made for its annual meeting in 2007.

"The unilateral cancellation by the hotel operator is not based on any legal grounds, and it is clear that it committed non-fulfillment of an obligation," Presiding Judge Kiyotaka Kono said. "It should be legally guaranteed that people can attend meetings in order to exchange views so they can establish and develop their own thoughts and personalities." The court also ordered the hotel chain operator and its executives to run an apology notice in a national newspaper.

The teachers union, known as Nikkyoso, reserved around 190 rooms and a large conference room at Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa in Tokyo in 2007 for use at its 2008 annual education research meeting.

But Prince Hotels then canceled the contract, citing fears that rightist groups might gather near the hotel to protest over the meeting and cause trouble for hotel users and neighbors, according to the ruling.

The hotel operator also refused to follow an order issued by the Tokyo District and Tokyo High courts to allow the union to use the hotel as a meeting venue.

Judge Kono said the refusal means the operator "is ignoring the justice system and this is illegal." Yuzuru Nakamura, chairman of the union's central executive committee, welcomed the ruling, saying it "clearly recognized the importance of educational research activities by teachers and freedom of assembly."

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Copyright (c) 2009, Kyodo News International, Tokyo

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