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Ishigaki, Naha, Onna win in 2005 budget battles

Date Posted: 2004-12-24

Santa came early as a scrooge of sorts this week, as the Japan Department of the Treasury unveiled its budget allocations for the coming year.

Overall, Okinawa Prefecture received 3.6% less than it had asked for, but Ishigaki City scored big with its funding of a new airport that’s been 30 years in the planning. Half the Ishigaki island residents had been opposed to the new airport for years, causing fights and strains over the environment versus growth.

Okinawa Prefecture’s share of funds from the central treasury total ¥282,800,000,000, less than the ¥300,000,000,000 requested.

Ishigaki’s citizens have now pulled together, agreeing that the Yaeyama District needs the airport to insure the region’s survival. It’s more than just growth, officials say, so the new airport construction will have new hotels, a golf course, a shopping center, restaurants and more. The new resort area construction on Ishigaki will also help promote the southern Okinawa island.

Chshou Ohama, Ishigaki City’s mayor, says “It was a long time for us to wait for a budget. Now we can compete to promote the city, while never forgetting to keep our island clean.”

Naha scored big with ¥1,190,000,000 allocated to the new municipal hospital now under construction. It will be complete in 2006. The Self Defense Agency picked up ¥26,200,000,000 for use in purchasing land to shift military operations around, and for Camp Zukaran (Camp Foster) housing area construction. The increase allows the Self Defense Agency to also spend money on Yomitan Village’s Elephant Cage construction. Another ¥2,740,000,000 was earmarked for the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station move.

Another big ticket item was funding for the new Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, the new graduate university. Money allocated for the education project was 1.8 times as much as was requested, ¥5,139,000,000, making it a smooth start for construction to begin in Onna Village.

Likewise, Gushikawa City was rewarded for its research efforts, and funding was provided to boost the number of research projects from four to 12 teams. Miyako Island’s Gusukube area utility lines will go underground in the coming year, thanks to funding of ¥1,700,000,000. The project to sink lines deep into the ground as a deterrent to typhoon damage will begin immediately, and will be complete in 2008.

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