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Junked government cars leave officials explaining

Date Posted: 2003-08-08

Junked cars belonging to Okinawa’s Prefectural Government are leaving officials embarrassed. Okinawa officials have long battled against junk cars piling up in all kinds of illegal locations. Now those same officials are red-faced after it was discovered that illegal junk yards in Nishihara and Kochinda Towns have many such cars that have proven to be prefecture government vehicles.

An investigation revealed the cars went to a car sales company when the government renewed its fleet. The company then contracted a junk dealer to get rid of the cars, but instead of scrapping them as agreed, stored them at the two locations. Company officials claim that the arrangement is temporary and was necessary, as they did not have space on their own premises.

Local people who have seen the cars, many of which still boast government logos and slogans on their doors, say that it is pure hypocrisy on the part of the government to order people to ensure their junked cars are taken care properly, on the threat of fines and other punishment. “Anyone can see that this car belonged to the government office. It is no excuse for government officials to claim that a dealer brought the cars here, and that they had no control over it. We should thoroughly discuss the responsibility of the government here,” a Kochinda resident living near the illegal junkyard fumed.

Other concerned parties point fingers. The car dealer who sold new cars to the government and agreed to dispose of the old ones blames junkyard operators. “I handed these cars over to the junkyard operator, who said he was going to export them to China. I have sent him many other cars in the past, and never had a problem,” the dealer spokesman claims.

Meanwhile the cars continue to pile up. The two illegal junkyards have currently more than 200 cars. Prefecture officials say that they have requested other licensed junkyards to clean the mess, and the cars should be removed shortly.

Prefecture officials have waged an on-going battle over illegal dumping since 1999, when a new ordinance was enacted levying a disposal fee on all bulky or environmentally hazardous junk. That has lead to many people to discard their unwanted refrigerators, washing machines, TV sets and even cars at quiet roadsides and other illegal places. Many unscrupulous operators also take junk from people for disposal, and then simply pile it up on a property somewhere.

Government officials say that more education is needed. “People have to understand that it costs money to properly dispose of these items, and they cannot expect the government to shoulder the burden. There are licensed and responsible junkyards that operate properly, and people should learn to use their services when they must dispose of their unwanted items,” an official at the Prefecture Environmental Health Bureau said.

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