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Governor leads protest to protect farmer incomes

Date Posted: 2007-06-21

Okinawa's agricultural and animal industries are worried about the effects of a proposed change to a 19-year-old customs duty taxes structure, and the Governor has joined in the latest demonstration demanding more be done to protect local industry.

Governor Hirokazu Nakaima led a weekend rally attracting more than 10,000 at Naha City’s Onoyama Park, telling citizens “We have to get together to have power to express our opinions, and fight to keep our lifestyle.” Referring to the devastating effect the long-standing World Trade Organization and EPA-proposed cuts in customs duty taxes would have on Okinawa farming and animal industries, he said “Our foods and our agriculture peoples’ lives are important.”

Adoption of the W.T.O. changes are projected to inflict ¥22,900,000,000 direct damage to Okinawa’s agriculture and live food industries, including sugar cane, pineapples, dairy farming and cattle raising. The ripple effect on community incomes, says the Prefecture, would soar to ¥78,100,000,000.

Officials warn such a huge income deficit would cause both the industries and the community social structures to collapse.

Agreements have been in place since 1988 that protect farmers by limiting imports of items like pineapples. Naha City Mayor Takeshi Onaga, whose city hosted the rally, said “We have to protect our agricultural products, and we need to inform our children to continue protecting our natural environment. They cannot stop.”

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