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Okinawans feeling economic impact as Japanese economy drops down

Date Posted: 2005-03-11

The bleak picture for Japanís economy is being painted across front pages everywhere, and ominous threats of most prefectures going bankrupt are raising eyebrows and outcries.

The financial situation in Asiaís giant is great, and the situation becoming critical. Debt is now listed at •736,000,000,000,000, a figure that translates to •5,800,000 ($56,862) per person in Japan. More ominous to financial experts is the fear itís climbing. For a family of four, the debt load saddles them with a •23,200,000 ($227,450) bill.

For Okinawans, where average income of •2,180,000 ($21,372) is the lowest of any prefecture, the impact is even more drastic. Family savings, on average, are •3,770,000 compared with the average mainland having •7,690,000 in the bank for emergencies.

Itís tough to save money in Okinawa. Officials say there are many reasons, starting with the lower incomes possible here. A slight variable may be that Okinawans are thought to keep more of their money at home, instead of in the bank.

A big factor is the automobile. Okinawans must have a vehicle to live; there are no subways, trainings and mass transit busses to carry them through. Costs of operating cars, to include insurance, registrations and inspections, operations and parking fees, add up quickly. And there are the rental apartment and car parking tolls too. Credit charges on car purchases are yet another expense.

Officials estimate the cost of operating a vehicle at •50,000~100,000 a month on Okinawa, because cars are needed for business, shopping, school and leisure.

The islandís third place ranking in the countries light industrial business, which encompasses the travel, restaurant, hotel and service industries, requires workers to drive.

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