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Japan to provide new subsidies to Okinawa

Date Posted: 2011-10-07

The Japanese government plans to set up a new, unlinked subsidies program aimed at supporting development of Okinawa Prefecture.

Informed sources in Tokyo say the central government has already outlined the plan in a meeting with Okinawa’s governor, Hirokazu Nakaima. Sources close to the deal say the move is designed to smooth the way for relocating the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station, a plan that has been stalled due to local opposition to shifting the base to northern Okinawa.

The Chief Cabinet Secretary, Osamu Fujimura, brushed aside queries about the new subsidies, which are not tied to any special or specific requirements by Okinawa, saying that the subsidies and the bases issue should be discussed separately. Reports had surfaced that the subsidies were aimed at breaking a stalemate on the relocation issue.

The central government has allocated some ¥230 billion for Okinawa-related expenditures in the fiscal 2011 budget that ends next March, with roughly ¥32 billion limited to specific spending areas. The Okinawa Prefectural Government has been calling on Tokyo to increase the Okinawa-related spending to ¥300 billion in the fiscal 2012 budget, and to allow the prefecture to decide how the money would be spent. The central government hasn’t decided yet how much it will allocate to subsidies when drafting its 2012 budget.

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