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Okinawa City struggling to find viable new business

Date Posted: 2009-01-23

Construction of a new business and shopping complex on what is now the military’s Awase Golf Course is promising to be a boon for Kitanakagusuku Village, while plunging Okinawa City’s economy into chaos.

Okinawa City, which has seen the number of retailers decline by 50% since 1991, says total retail sales have dropped by ¥10.2 billion in the last year alone.

Those figures promise to get worse, city officials say, as additional businesses threaten to flee the city for nearby Kitanakagusuku, where Aeon Group is to build a massive shopping mall on the land now occupied by the U.S. Marine Corps golf course. Okinawa City’s Commercial Promotion Section director notes the new shopping center will include a brand new hospital nearby, meaning more income will leave Okinawa City as more businesses migrate.

He predicts shops in the business center areas could close or go into bankruptcy. “We are very concerned about this situation,” he says, adding “Okinawa City’s business centers and shopping malls used to be very lively places.” At Goya intersection and at nearby shopping malls, business has dropped 40% and the number of workers has also decreased by nearly 40%.

At the same time, Kitanakagusuku is forecast to grow. The same is true for Uruma City and the Hamby Town and Mihama areas, which have seen customers increasing steadily, and spending more money. Okinawa City officials say they must do something within municipal government to spur local citizens to redevelop and protect themselves.

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