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Rain eludes Okinawa

Date Posted: 2002-05-23

The rainy season officially started May 10, but the problem is, there’s no rain. Or, at least, not nearly enough. That has given to the rise of the specter of water rationing, the last of which was enacted in Okinawa eight years ago.

According to figures by prefecture officials, the rainfall from February through April was only 44 percent of the average. Consequently, the water in the prefecture’s reservoirs decreased to less than 50 percent of their capacity.

At the same time, water usage is increasing. As a first measure, the Okinawa Prefecture Water Rationing Committee has sent an urgent advisory to all public offices urging them to come up with measures to conserve water. As a result, the prefecture offices immediately switched to using paper coffee cups in order to reduce water used for dishwashing, a measure no doubt applauded by younger ladies in the offices whose job traditionally includes washing the dishes. The prefecture also posted several suggestions on water conservation on their Japanese language web page.

On Miyako Island where the lack of rain seriously threatens agricultural crops, officials at local municipalities have organized dance parties in hopes to entice the help of the spiritual world to bring rain. However, according to weather reports, dance and chanting does not seem to offer much help. Forecasts for this week promise three days of intermittent showers, but the weekend should be sunny. That’s good news for beach goers but bad for farming and officials in charge of the prefecture’s water resources.

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