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Municipalities’ Hopes High for 21st Century

Date Posted: 2001-01-12

Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper conducted a poll among mayors of cities, villages, and towns in Okinawa, questioning their views on what each city is going to be like 25 years from now.

One of the major points emerged when the leaders were asked how the population in each location would develop. According to the poll, the combined population of Okinawa 25 years from now will be 1,954,900. That is 636,619 more than present. Where all those people would find space is not clear, but should the mayors’ wishes come true, the traffic situation would hardly improve.

Sixty percent of the cities in Okinawa will keep emphasis on tourism. However, cities such as Okinawa City, Ginowan, Kadena, Chatan, and Nishihara are banking on IT industries as the future mainstay of their income.

Many mayors said that the key word for their communities during the 21st century is “Independence.” They hope to promote a unique community without financial assistance from the national government. Other unique key words include Passion (Kin Town), Healing (Iheya Village) and Human Scale (Okinawa city).

Out of 53 cities of Okinawa, 45 cities are hopeful that U.S. base facilities will be decreased or removed. Cities such as Nago City, Okinawa City, Higashi Village and Chatan Town (all of those have many base facilities within their area) answered “50-69 % down.” Ginowan City, which currently hosts MCAS Futenma, answered that all the base facilities within its borders will be removed within next 25 years.

Despite the current financial woes that plague most Okinawan municipalities, 40 percent think that they will grow to be financially twice as big as they are now. Okinawa City was the most optimistic, expecting to be three times bigger.

There are many projects already on the planning boards. Nago City is busy planning a college town specializing in IT-related research, especially fiber optics. Kin Town hopes to build a resort center that includes parks, nature school, golf courses, and spa resorts after Camp Hansen is removed. Kadena Town envisions a joint commercial and military use for the runways on Kadena Air Base. And an underwater tunnel between Motobu and Ie Island in Motobu Town to observe tropical fish, and other marine life is in the dreams of the Mayor there.

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