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Gas prices soar as tax is reinstated

Date Posted: 2008-05-09

Regular grade gasoline is now selling for ¥150~160 on Okinawa’s main island, but the price is already at ¥180 and threatening to go higher on Yonaguni Island.

Only a week into a return to higher gasoline prices following reinstatement of a special tax measure by the Diet, consumers are complaining “Now it’s about time to walk and not use the car anymore.” The special gasoline tax that had been around for 56 years was abolished March 31st, but was revived by the Diet only a month later. During the break, gasoline had dropped to ¥127~128 per liter for standard grade gasoline.

Okinawa Prefecture operates its own offices to administer the Oil Price Regulation Tax, and to allocate subsidies to cargo companies operating in the Prefecture. Without the competition found on Okinawa’s largest island, outlining islands complain they’re being discriminated against. “If the oil cost goes up, one liter costs will go over ¥200 soon,” says a gas station owner on Yonaguni Island. Prices have jumped from ¥140 to ¥168 in Miyakojima City, and a gas station owner there appeals for “customers to understand” it’s not their doing.

Prefecture officials acknowledge “we need to support the isolated residents lives too,” and promises “we will look at the price of transportation charges and how much they are.” He says the government is “ready to give subsidy to cargo companies, and if it’s too much pressure, we’ll consider making a supplementary budget.”

Prices on Okinawa’s main island are fluctuating this week between ¥128~133 for standard grade gasoline, but officials warn those prices could jump to ¥155~160 “in a matter of days.”

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