Tokyo tags big budget money for Okinawa

The central government in Tokyo, ever mindful of its need to court the governor of Okinawa, whose support is needed to move the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station relocation project, has included ¥346 billion in its fiscal 2014 budget for development projects in Okinawa Prefecture.

The amount is higher than the ¥340.8 billion the Cabinet Office had requested.  The announcement comes only days before Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima is to make a decision on approving land reclamation work that’s the first step in moving Futenma MCAS from Ginowan City to the Henoko district of Nago City.

Finance Minister Taro Aso and the Minister for Okinawa Affairs, Ichita Yamamoto, made the decision to hike the Okinawa Prefecture subsidies well above the ¥300.1 billion included in the current budget.  Also increased significantly, by ¥3 billion, is the ¥33 billion for constructing a second runway at Naha International Airport.  A lump sum subsidy earmarked for development within Okinawa Prefecture was increased by ¥8.7 billion, to ¥184.5 billion from the original request.

Tokyo is working feverishly to shore up relations with Okinawa Prefecture to gain good will for relocating the Futenma MCAS, and for other changes in current policies.  A big element is a plan being considered by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to shift forward the timeline for building the Futenma Replacement Facility to a time much earlier than the currently projected 2022, in hopes of currying additional support