: Classifieds : MyJU :
Stories: News
Browse News Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

Tokyo freezes Nago base subsidies

Date Posted: 2007-02-19

The central government is playing hardball with Nago City over delays in agreements to create a new military airfield in the city’s territory, and the mayor is hopping mad.

The funds totaling more than ¥51,000,000,000 have been allocated to build two runways in a V-shape at Camp Schwab, together with new barracks and other facilities. The problem, says Tokyo, is that Nago City and Okinawa Prefecture are not living up to an April 2006 agreement. Mayor Yoshikazu Shimabukuro thinks the national leadership is being unfair, because he agreed to the plan for replacing Futenma Marine Corps Air Station with a new one in his community. While acknowledging he has proposed minor modifications to the location of the V-shape runways, he says he’s still in favor of the deal.

The Minister of Defense, however, doesn’t see it the same way. “If you don’t listen to what we say, we’ll not give you any money. Zero. We have made the next budget for Nago City, but if we give that money when you guys don’t listen, it would be against the law.” He reiterated the government has made clear the requirement for Nago City to firmly endorse and support the replacement airfield plan if it wants the promotion money.

“If you break the agreement,” the minister said this week, “we can’t give you the money”.

Shimabukuro is angry, asking “What? You don’t give the money at all?” He called the Tokyo administrators ‘crazy’ and reminded them “I signed the papers agreeing, and only said I would like to see the airfield moved 350 meters outside the village. And that’s for protection of the people in case of an accident. We don’t want airplanes falling on citizens houses.”

Construction companies are fearful the delays could impact their business, and their fiscal viability. “We want the Nago City mayor to make friends with the government,” says a company director. “Don’t be unreasonable, because if we don’t listen now, nothing will happen with Futenma.” He matched the financial concerns with safety issues as well, pointing out that “nothing will happen to Futenma and the dangers will stay as they are now.”

Another says it’s time to move forward on replacing Futenma, regardless of whether other bases are returned at all. “Now it’s time to listen as adults. We need the Prefecture and Nago City to promote this base change, and give jobs to citizens.” Yet another sentiment was that “if we fight forever, we’re wasting time and still have a dangerous situation at Futenma for the people of Ginowan.” A half-dozen directors underscored “we need jobs! We need money!!”

The Chamber of Commerce chairman for Nago City, Morihi Ogidou, questions the government motivation in denying people the right to speak. “Surely we can give our own opinions to the government, and to the American military. We have our own opinions,” he says, asking “Can’t we say anything? And if we say anything against the government, we can’t get government funds? That’s nonsense?”

Anti-base activists, on the other hand, are pleased with the turmoil. Hiroshi Ashitomi is head of the Futenma Heliport Transformation Committee, and he’s glad there’s a glitch. “That’s good. We’ve been telling everyone we don’t need military bases at all. So, we sure don’t need the money. We can make our own.”

The Cabinet adopted the bill granting money to Okinawa’s Nago City, one of the municipalities hosting American bases, or in areas where the American military population is large. The new deal sets a series of subsidy phases or steps, starting with when the realignment plans are accepted. A second round of payments would come following or during environmental impact assessments.

The third release of money is to come as construction begins, and the final payments when construction is complete and the facility goes into operation.

While much attention is focused on the Nago City issue, the government spurned funding changes for Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Iwakuni City officials have been antagonistic in opposing changes to the military force structure in their area, leading the government to retaliate by refusing to offer extra incentive money.

Browse News Stories: « Previous Story | Next Story »

weather currency health and beauty restaurants Yellowpages JU Blog

OkistyleJU FacebookOkistyle

Go to advertising PDF?||?|o?L?qAE?|?}?OA?N?ga`OkiStyle?A??q?qM?oeu^?I`??N?gX?<eth>?<ETH>?ni^?IWanted!!Golden Kings ScheduleOkiNightSeeker