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Okinawa to host G-8 summit in 2000

Date Posted: 1999-05-01

Okinawa will host the Group of Eight (G-8) economic summit in 2000, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka announced April 29.

"Today's decision will lead Okinawa toward a brighter 21st century, and it is also a reflection of the fact that the prime minister, his government and the Japanese public as a whole have brought forth their most sincere feelings toward the people of Okinawa in the form of the summit," said Nonaka, who also heads the Okinawa Development Agency. Okinawa had been one of eight locations lobbying for the right to host the summit. The unsuccessful candidates included Chiba, Miyazaki, and Osaka prefectures, and the cities of Sapporo, Hiroshima, Fukuoka and Yokohama.

"Okinawa is different from mainland Japan in a variety of ways, and (hosting the summit there) will broaden the scope of Japan. It will have a global impact to send a message of peace from Okinawa, which has a different history from the rest of the country," the Japan Times quoted Inamine as saying after the announcement was made.

In a remarkable coup for the prefecture and Inamine, the decision to host the summit in Nago will mark the first time it has been held outside of Tokyo. The official venue will be The Okinawa International Friendship Hall in Nago City, to be built in the resort area of Cape Busena, Kyodo News reported Thursday. What clinched the decision, news reports say, was Prime Minister Obuchi's determination to reward the nation's poorest prefecture for what the Japan Times called a "long history of suffering" and the role it played as the only Japanese territory where land battles took place during World War II. The Battle of Okinawa is believed to have killed at least 100,000 local residents. The vast majority of U.S. military personnel in Japan are stationed on Okinawa, where U.S. military installations take up nearly 25 percent of the main island, and account for 75 percent of the total land used throughout the country.

The G-8 consists of the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for mid to late July.

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