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Okinawa will use vacated U.S. Military sites for development

Date Posted: 2012-05-18

The Okinawa prefectural government announced Tuesday a 10-year development plan that calls for promoting the use of land tracts to be vacated by the U.S. military and boosting economic relations with East Asian nations.

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima submitted the plan to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda ahead of a ceremony held in Ginowan to mark the 40th anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan in 1972. The plan from fiscal 2012 points out that Okinawa's development has been greatly hampered by the concentration of U.S. military facilities in the southernmost prefecture, which is home to 74 pct of all such facilities in Japan.

A bilateral agreement to return five American facilities and zones south of the U.S. Air Force's Kadena base needs to be firmly fulfilled, the plan says, underlining that utilizing the vacated land tracts will maximize the potential for its economic development.

The plan also says Okinawa will establish a "bridgehead" that takes in Asia's economic growth and vitality by capitalizing on its geographical location. Specifically, the prefecture intends to improve transportation and distribution infrastructure and beef up the tourism and information technology industries, according to the plan.

The prefecture will also underscore education, employment, and science and technology as well as measures for remote islands. Previously, the central government adopted a development plan for Okinawa on the basis of a draft plan drawn up by the prefecture. But the revised Okinawa development law, which was enacted in March, authorizes the prefecture to devise its own plan under its own initiative.

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