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Three municipalities in fierce contest for new school

Date Posted: 2003-01-24

Competition among the three municipalities that were chosen as alternatives for the location of the Okinawa Graduate University is intensifying. Each community has formed a committee and sent delegations to Tokyo to promote their site. And everyone is coming up with reasons why just their location would be the best for the new university.

The contestants are Onna Village that has the largest lot of land to offer, Kitanakagusuku that wants to build the institution on the current Awase Golf Course site, and Itoman City whose promoters point out that their site is the closest to the airport and also claim that the southern part of the island has been neglected as most of the development money goes to projects in northern areas.

Onna Village promotion committee organized a public demonstration on Monday to show that the whole village is behind the plan. Committee Chairman Kiyotoku Shimabukuro says that it is important to show unity. “By organizing this demonstration we can publicize our advantages effectively,” Shimabukuro said. He is also keen to point out that should the school come to Onna Village, neighboring municipalities Ishikawa and Gushikawa City, and Yomitan Village would also benefit. “The university will bring prosperity to a large area, and I am sure that our neighbors are happy to support us,” he stated.

Kitanakagusuku representatives claim that they can offer the most internationalized location. “We have many residents from various foreign countries who have brought their culture and customs and lifestyles here. Locating the university on the current Awase Golf Course land would also set a precedent for an effective use of returned base land,” a Kitanakagusuku committee member stated. The committee also sent a delegation to Tokyo in January to convince the relevant government ministries of their advantage. The committee is also in the process of securing agreements from individual landowners.

Itoman City committee has worked longest to promote Kyan area within the city as the best location. The committee held a general meeting on Aug. 27, and immediately after the meeting, sent a delegation to Tokyo on Aug. 29 to meet Kouji Omi, the minister in charge of Okinawa development. The committee also collected signatures of 126,890 residents of the city in December for a petition to the central government.

Itoman City Mayor Chosei Yamazato says it’s about a time to pay attention to the development of the southern part of Okinawa. “The south, including Itoman City, needs more promotion from the central government. We have a feeling here that the government pays attention only to the northern part of the island. That is not fair,” Yamazato says.

At the end, Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine has the biggest say in choosing the location. So far he has not given any indication which part he is in favor of.

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