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Subsidy monies a mixed blessing for Katsuren

Date Posted: 2006-06-23

Hosting American military bases has led to lots of subsidy money being doled out to local Okinawa communities.

Katsuren Town took advantage of the money several years ago, using the funds allocated as special promotion works money for cities, towns and villages to build a public hall. Other communities including Ginoza Village, Ie Village, Okinawa City, Naha City, Kadena Town, Nago City, Chatan Town, Ginowan City, Nishihara Town and Onna Village also took advantage of the funding. Itoman City build a community hall, citizens houses and special schools with the money, while Okinawa City’s new music town near Gate 2 Street was built with the special funds.

When Katsuren Town received the grants, it built Kimutaka Hall, a 500-capacity hall built at a cost of ¥2,000,000,000. Opening in 2001, it promised to fulfill the community’s every need. Only a year later, the truth began slipping out. Operating costs were tremendous, and they weren’t covered by the special program money.

Electrical costs were ˆ¥18,000,000 for the year, while income totaled only ¥2,000,000. Already ¥16,000,000 in the hole after a single year’s operation, town officials were worried, because Kimutaka Hall is a high tech facility with a state-of-the-art sound system for orchestras, and a modern stage and lighting system. It took special technicians, which Katsuren Town hired.

Then came the Trinity Reform Plan, leading to the merger of Katsuren Town with Gushikawa, Ishikawa and Yonsashiro. Uruma City, the new entity, already had a large theater hall in a much more centrally located area. Katsuren’s Kimutaka Hall is now only 30% utilized, and public officials are looking for ways to curb costs. Right now, they’re saying it’s going to be impossible to keep the hall open.

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