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TOKYO, Japan — The claim that the Japanese government broke its promise to restrict building more U.S. military housing in Ikego was rejected again Thursday in a Tokyo High Court decision.

The court dismissed the appeal by Zushi City, instead supporting a previous lower court’s stance that the issue does not belong in court.

City officials sued the government two years ago on the basis of a 1994 agreement among Zushi, Kanagawa prefecture and the Japanese government to refrain from construction in Ikego, home to one of the area’s rare old growth forests. About a third of Ikego’s land is used to house about 3,400 family members attached to nearby Yokosuka Naval Base.

The lawsuit came on the heels of the 2005 announcement that the national government and the Navy would build 700 additional housing units in Ikego to replace the U.S. housing area in Negishi, which reverts back to Japan in about a decade.

Thursday’s verdict supported the Japanese government’s claim that the 1994 agreement was “non-binding” and only an administrative agreement to maintain and secure the city’s public interest.

Thursday’s Tokyo High Court decision showed that the court “understood” the national government’s position, said Defense Facilities Administration Agency general affairs chief Kenshu Nagaoka said, according to a news release.

The decision provided the Navy an opportunity to “consider Japanese views” and “listen carefully to the sentiments and opinions of local citizens and authorities,” said Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan spokesman Jon Nylander.

Area citizens always have been “gracious hosts” to Americans living in both the Ikego complex and Zushi City, he added.

Zushi Mayor Ryuichi Hirai called the decision “very dry” and “regrettable” and said the city was undecided about whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Allison Batdorff contributed to this story.

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