Okinawa consumer price index highest in nation

The consumer price index calculated by Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications that compares prices of food and daily necessities in cities throughout the nation found that Naha was the priciest municipality to buy food in Japan in 2015.

The price index designates the national average as 100, and the index for Naha is 103.9 that is higher than even the Tokyo metropolitan area. The index for groceries is particularly high.

According to Okinawa Prefecture Government Statistics Division, the reason is because “We produce less leafy vegetables in the summer in Okinawa, so we have no choice but to import them from outside, which makes the prices higher. We also have more visiting tourists in the summer, so we need to import more of the vegetables.”

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has calculated the index since 2000 in order to size the differences in the price levels in different parts of the country.

According to the index of 2015, the highest prices were in Naha, Kanazawa, Tokyo metropolitan area, and Matsue City, in that order. When government-designated cities are included, Sagamihara City has the highest prices, and Naha is the second.

On the other hand, the average salary in Okinawa is about 80% of the national average, and the minimum wage is the lowest in the nation, putting pressure on residents’ life here.

In addition, an expert on poverty and labor problems points out that, “The gap is getting wider, which puts pressure specially on low-income groups. It’s possible that the gap between Okinawa and mainland Japan has been even widening after the reversion of Okinawa, and the Okinawa Prefectural Government should do something to correct the difference.