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Thrifty Okinawans save more than mainlanders

Date Posted: 2007-05-11

Okinawans have the highest savings rate in Japan, despite lagging behind in income.

The new report released by Japan Bank’s Naha Branch says one-third of Okinawans are saving ¥10,000,000, compared with a national average of 20% The revelation that Okinawans have between ¥10,000,000 and ¥100,000,000 in the bank comes from 2006 data provided by Ryukyu Bank, Okinawa Bank and Kaiho Bank.

More mainland Japanese are saving smaller amounts under ¥3,000,000 than Okinawans. Nationwide, the number totals 46.2% compared with Okinawa’s 36.7%. Officials note, though, that 31~35% of Okinawans have, over the past seven years, been pumping ¥10,000,000 to ¥100,000,000 into savings account.

The figures are surprising because of a joint report showing Okinawans are earning only 70% of the national Japan average. 22% of Okinawans earn less than ¥2,000,000 ($17,391) per year. The percentage of Okinawa’s earning the low income is well below the 7.5% of Japanese in the same financial income category.

A contributing factor to Okinawan savings is the money received by landowners for leasing their property to the government and to the U.S. military. “It’s mostly because of Okinawa people holding military lands and state lands that gives them big money,” a bank official says. Without the military bases, the banker warns, Okinawa income levels will drop further, and “the number of people saving money will fall down to the bottom.”

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