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Upcoming imperial visit sparks Ishigaki cleanup

Date Posted: 2004-01-22

The Japanese emperor and empress are scheduled to pay a visit to Miyako and Ishigaki islands on Monday. Their visit marks the first time the ruling emperor of Japan ever sets a foot on any of the outer islands of Okinawa.

The upcoming visit has prompted local volunteer groups to give the island a face-lift, with special attention focused on a huge pile of junk cars that was located next to the airport. The cars have been hauled away.

Both the police and local city officials had been asking the junkyard owner to clean the site for past three years, to no avail. The owner finally allowed a local volunteer group and Naha-based junk dealer Takunan Shoji to remove the cars.

“Now we can be proud of our island when the emperor comes for a visit,” a member of the volunteer group said.

Takunan Shoji has gained public attention as well as severe criticism from other junkyards in the prefecture recently as it started paying for junk cars instead of charging the owners a junking fee. Takunan Shoji’s policy change came following a sharp rise in the price of scrap metal.

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