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Rental apartments switching from government ownership

Date Posted: 2005-02-25

Government owned rental apartments in Naha are going private, and residents are irate.

The units in Naha Cityís Furujima area, Matsugawa area and Sueyoshi area are operated by the Postal Savings Housing Business Association. The government has sold the apartments to a private operator, who takes over beginning in April.

Residents already know price hikes are coming, but say theyíre being kept in the dark as to exactly whatís coming. Theyíve met with the Postal Savings Housing Business Association, and know the number of units will be reduced from 760 to 660. They donít know why, and they donít know where the displaced tenants will go, or who will help them.

Roughly 50% of the Matsugawa area residents are senior citizens. New apartment construction to serve them wonít even start until 2007. They expect about 40% will be required to relocate from the area.

The new owners havenít said what the rental rates will be. Residents are angry. ďWhy donít they know? Why donít we know? They already know but donít want to say!Ē The residents note their children must relocate schools and change friends, teachers and social lives.

City officials say the move comes because of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumiís Trinity Reform System being implement in coming months. That plan shifts budget and fiscal reform responsibilities to local cities, and makes them responsible for collecting taxes and raising money. Privatization is considered essential to freeing the government agencies from often uncontrollable expenses.

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