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Airfield lobbying called a ‘waste of taxpayer money’

Date Posted: 2006-04-21

The Japanese government is lobbying hard to convince Nago City residents to accept the proposed Henoko airfield plan.

To make their points, the government is using public relations, marketing and advertising techniques to reach the citizens. That, Henoko opponents say, is wasting precious taxpayer yen. They say the government is spending too much time, as well as money, trying to win over its citizens.

One example cited is a pamphlet produced by the government that asks residents to “agree with the coastal plan.” It assures that “it is the most positive and best possible idea.” More than 40,000 pamphlets were printed and distributed, explaining how the new airfield at Camp Schwab, with its two runways, would be beneficial. Critics say the pamphlets cost more than ¥1,000,000 to produce and another ¥120,000 to distribute over a three-day period at the end of March.

When Nago City officials decided to go to Tokyo for talks on accepting the airfield, the government stopped circulating the pamphlets after delivering only 4,500. The government, which now has the agreement being sought in the pamphlets, now has a surplus of pamphlets, and budget watchers are angry.

“I don’t understand why they have to spend our tax money,” said one. “We don’t think it was wasting money,” the Self Defense Agency responded. “It was very effective, explaining our history and how we came to this hope for decision.” The Defense Agency official says once people read the pamphlets, “they will understand the transfer problems.”

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