Sensoji, Tokyo's Oldest Buddhist Temple, Loses Lawsuit Opposing Skyscraper

Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple lost a lawsuit arguing that the city government shouldn’t have approved construction of a skyscraper by Mitsubishi Estate Co.

Judge Yutaka Kawakami of the Tokyo District Court today dismissed the case opposing a 37-story apartment block in the capital’s Asakusa district about 400 meters west of Sensoji temple without giving reasons.

The Sensoji temple and a group of local residents sued the city last year saying that local authority regulations limit residential buildings to five stories. Mitsubishi Estate, Japan’s largest developer by market value, has sold 190 of the planned 693 units, said spokesman Ryuichiro Funo, who declined to comment on the ruling today.

“Judges tend to respect an administrative body’s permission or discretion,” unless it was abusive or beyond its authority, according to Yoshihiro Takatori, the head of the litigation in Tokyo at Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP.

Towa Real Estate Development Co., a unit of Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Estate, owns half of the project. Mitsubishi Estate owns 20 percent and Mitsubishi Logistics Corp. owns the rest.

Mitsubishi Estate fell 1.8 percent to 1,503 yen as of 3 p.m. close of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and Mitsubishi Logistics declined 1.9 percent to 1,019 yen. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 0.9 percent.

A temple was first built at Sensoji in 628 A.D. according to the temple’s website.

Sensoji hasn’t decided whether to appeal the ruling, said Yu Tomita, a lawyer for the temple.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kathleen Chu in Tokyo at Kchu2@bloomberg.net; Eijiro Ueno in Tokyo at e.ueno@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andreea Papuc at apapuc1@bloomberg.net; Teo Chian Wei at cwteo@bloomberg.net.

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