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City mergers coming soon To save taxpapers’ money

Date Posted: 2004-11-05

April 1, 2005.

That’s the date two Okinawa cities and two Okinawa towns cease to exist.

The four municipalities—Gushikawa City, Ishikawa City, Katsuren Town and Yonashiro Town—are going to merge into one.

Uruma City will be the new city’s name, swallowing up the four that disappear. The four mayors this week presented a letter of intent to Prefectural Governor Keiichi Inamine.

The Governor will set the Prefectural Assembly gears in motion to approve the plan, which will lead to formal designation of the new city name by the Ministry of General Affairs.

The merger will make Uruma City Okinawa’s third largest city, behind Naha and Okinawa City. It will have a population of 115,000.

This is the prefecture’s second communities merger. Earlier Kumejima Town was created as an economy measure.

Chinen Tsuneo, Gushikawa City’s mayor, says “residents need diversified services, and the combination of a slowdown in births and increases in the elderly required more services each town alone can’t give. We need to support each others towns and cities and to actively promote city life.” He says, though, the new municipality is going to need strong support from the Prefecture.

Governor Inamine has tossed his support behind the proposed merger. “There are a lot of possibilities to promote this great Uruma City,” he told the four leaders. “I’m proud of you. You four got past the big problems. Difficult problems.” He promised that their efforts will be a role model for other cities contemplating the same merger moves.

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