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An era ends: Naha City Office Building closes tomorrow

Date Posted: 2009-09-17

It was the largest, tallest, most modern building in Okinawa when it was built in 1965, but now, the Naha City Offices Building is dwarfed by department stores and citizen halls.

The era ends tomorrow, when the last of city offices vacate the aging building, now one of the smallest in downtown Naha City. It’s the first step toward the building’s demolition, after which a new City Offices Building will be built on the same spot.

When the building opened 44 years ago, seven years before the U.S. returned Okinawa to Japanese control, it was celebrated by citizens for four days, milling around the fountain, getting in line to ride two of the building elevators managed by elevator guides, looking out over the city from its roof. The opening of Naha City’s offices building was, literally, the talk of the town.

City offices have been set in a temporary prefabricated structure in Omoromachi. Workers will spend the next three years at the interim site until the new building is complete. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

Financially strapped Naha City was supposed to have built its new office building in Omoromachi, but couldn’t come up with enough money to make the project work. Instead, Naha City sold the property earmarked for the office building to private developers. Residents and citizens protested all the way to Tokyo, demanding Naha City cancel the sales and return to original plans to make the city office building on the site, but their efforts failed.

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