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Ishigaki Airport construction project still facing uphill battle

Date Posted: 2002-07-04

The plan to construct a new airport in Ishigaki has been on the table for more than 20 years, but a solution that everyone could agree is as far as ever. The project seemed to get a bit closer becoming reality when the Prefectural New Ishigaki Airport Construction Committee made a decision to build the facility at Karadake. That decision was made over two years ago, and although it was at the time hailed as a compromise that almost everyone could live with, the number of opponents has grown ever since.

Originally, only 24 landowners registered their opposition to the project and refused to sell their land. Now the number has swollen to 156. Ishigaki City has tried to persuade the landowners to change their mind by sending them a letter explaining how important it is for Ishigaki City and the whole region to get a new larger airport, but so far the landowners remain unconvinced. In a matter of fact, the city has sent more than 100 letter to landowners over the past 20 years.

Planners at Okinawa Prefectural Government say that they will be ready to start the construction work in 2005. But that on condition that everything goes smooth, landowners agree to sell and environmental investigation will give the project a go-ahead.

And given how things look now, that is not likely to happen. What is more likely is that the project will be pushed farther and farther into the future. Many are beginning to believe that Ishigaki will never see a new airport.

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