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Minister Omi: Okinawa needs better connections

Date Posted: 2002-07-20

State Minister Koji Omi believes that Okinawa needs more direct international flight connections if the planned Okinawa Research University is to be successful. Omi, the minister in charge of Okinawa and affairs related to the Northern Territory (Hokkaido) and who also heads the Council for Science and Technology Policy, made the remarks at a lecture he gave recently at the Ryukyu Forum at Kariyushi Urban Hotel in Naha City.

He said that the aim is to make the institution the best in the world, and to ensure its ability to attract top scientists as teachers Okinawa must have better connections with the rest of the world. “The very least direct connections are needed between Okinawa and the U.S. and Okinawa and Singapore,” the minister said.

Currently, Okinawa is connected with direct international flights to four destinations; Taipei, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul.

If everything goes according to plans, half of the graduate students and researchers in the new university will come from abroad. Organizers also hope to attract a top researcher, maybe a winner of the Nobel Prize, to become a virtual head of the institution. Omi also says that it will be managed privately, apart from the dictates of Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. There have also been suggestions from academic institutions in the U.S. that because of Okinawa’s location, ocean engineering and marine biotechnology should be made top priorities of the Okinawa Research University.

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