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International school plan fuels Uruma City political controversy

Date Posted: 2009-03-12

Uruma City leaders want to build an international school in the city, and Assembly members have given an approval.

In the wake of the initial approvals, both Assembly members and local residents have been stepping forward with new objections, calling for a reconsideration for the ¥1 billion project. After first being approved, the school project was rejected during a December Assembly business meeting, leaving the city to call for yet another vote after Uruma City, Okinawa Prefecture and Obunsha Publishing Company—all of whom signed a memorandum of understanding for the construction last year—say they’ll try to explain everything again to the community.

Community backlash has begun over both a lack of information being provided, and the steep cost of construction at a time of budget and economic concerns. “Actually, we’re not against having the international school, but there is a problem selecting the location,” says one city Assembly member. “Why does it have to be built on the specific site chosen,” he asks, adding that “another problem is finances. Where do we get the money for building the school?”

Okinawa Prefecture says the building construction budget will come from the central government, money taken from a budget line item for soundproofing construction subsidy money at the Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Branch. Applications for that money must be filed before a May deadline, leaving Uruma City until the end of this month to get all paperwork in order. Uruma City says the only possible location for the new international school is the Gushikawa outdoor recreation site, and says “we are not going to change the location.”

The Assembly, meanwhile, has rejected that location. The Assembly plans another meeting to discuss other options.

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