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Funds for Airport, Highway Extension Cancelled

Date Posted: 2000-09-01

The long-standing dispute over the construction of the new Ishigaki Airport entered a new phase, with the central government announcing that it has cancelled the budgetary funds for constructing the airport at Shiraho as originally planned. The often-fierce dispute has surrounded the planned construction for almost 25 years.

Opposition from landowners and various environmental groups around the world have prevented the construction so far. The Shiraho location was seen as putting the well-being of the largest blue coral colony in the world in danger. The prefectural government made a decision to move the site of the new airport to an alternative location at Karadake. However, the prefectural government has yet to reach an agreement with local landowners.

The central government which has agreed to fund half the project, had the funds earmarked for the Shiraho location has yet to approve them for a new location. “We cannot allocate the funds since there is no firm plan or timetable for the construction, or even an agreement with the local landowners at the moment,” an official at the Ministry of Transportation said yesterday.

Another project in danger of losing its allocated funds is the construction of a parallel route to Highway 58 that was to run from Okinawa Convention Center to the Airport. That project is depending on moving the U.S. Military Port in Onoyama to a new location on reclaimed land off Camp Kinser in Urasoe City. Urasoe City has already agreed accept the military port, but the land reclamation project necessary to the move, has hit a snag because of the sagging economy.

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