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Prefecture to demand construction of 82km rail system

Date Posted: 2010-06-17

Acknowledging up front it’s an expensive proposition, Okinawa Prefecture has decided to press the central government for special promotion funds to build a rail system that would run from Itoman City in the south to Nago City in the north.

Okinawa Prefecture will seek government approval—and the funding—to construct either an 82 kilometer long traditional rail system or a light rail system to serve the island. Estimated cost for the rail line running between Nago and Itoman would be ¥860 billion. Okinawa officials say the rapidly rising construction costs make it necessary to seek funding from Tokyo. A current Okinawa promotion planning cycle is ending, and the Prefecture is planning for the new one.

The Okinawa argument for the rail system’s necessity is that the island is broken into abnormal city and town districts because of the presence of American military installations that make roads insufficient because of all the twists and turns necessary to get around them. The entire road system is in need of reform, too, say Okinawa officials. It wants the future operating company of the rail system exempted from municipal government taxes.

The Prefecture is demanding the central government study two different systems before selecting the most favorable one. The traditional rail system would cost ¥20~30 billion per kilometer to construct, while the light rail system such as streetcars would cost ¥2~20 billion per kilometer.

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