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New Japanese law to impact Okinawans

Date Posted: 2005-01-06

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s new financial program is called the ‘Trinity System’.

Okinawans are calling it a near disaster.

The program will, within two years, slash government subsidies to the Prefecture by 20%, impacting on many programs, including in-school food programs. Salaries will be cut, and government civil service jobs may be cut by 40,000.

The Prefecture will have to pay its own way, collecting the taxes instead of relying on Tokyo. That’s a problem here, where many Okinawans are lax in making their tax payments. With prefectures now responsible for their own finances, it’s going to mean big changes in getting Okinawan citizens’ attention.

Income tax is the largest drain on personal income, with the consumption tax close behind. Those will be a prefectural responsibility to collect, and officials are worried about “How should we collect the tax?”

Home taxes in Okinawa are higher than in mainland Japan, because structures here are built from concrete. Concrete buildings have higher tax rates than prefabricated structures or wooden homes, but are a necessity in this typhoons area. With incomes low on Okinawa, residents often ignore paying the tax.

Being friends or neighbors with the tax collector is also an issue. “I can’t collect tax from my neighbor,” one said. “I know them very well. They don’t have money to pay, so I can’t ask them to pay.” Another says “residents say to me ‘I’ll bring later, not now.’ ‘I don’t have money now. Can I pay next month?’” He said later they come again and have another reason they can’t pay.

Collecting the taxes is forecast to be the most difficult process for the Prefecture. In other prefectures, the government confiscates the property when taxes aren’t paid. It is a strict system. In Okinawa, that’s difficult, so one Prefecture official says “we are sure going to become more strict. Sure we can do confiscation, because it’s the peoples’ property when the taxes aren’t paid.”

Northern Okinawa is the worst offender in paying taxes, which aren’t collected well. Only about 69% of the taxes get into the government accounts. No community in Okinawa has 100% collection.

Other worst offenders are Ogimi Village 72%, Katsuren Town 74%, Kunigami Village 77%, Hirara City 77%, Nago City 80%, Ginoza 81%, Onna 82%, and Yomitan 81%.

On the best side, Naha City and Urasoe City scored 89.8% of the time, Okinawa City 82%, Kadena 88.7%, Chatan 87.9%, Kitanakagusuku 86.7% and Ginowan 80%.

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