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NPO looks for ways to boost Okinawa City

Date Posted: 2009-12-03

Central Okinawa City is nicknamed ‘Shutter Street’ because of the many shops in the area that are closed and shuttered, and now a new group, NPO Foundation Koza Town, is gearing up to try changing the city’s downtown image.

The group wants to breathe a note of fresh air into the city, transforming its image to one of stimulation city, moving the thinking away from simple shopping centers to a city of friendship. The NPO, the government and commercial groups are banding together to create a new downtown, and the city itself is preparing to work with the cabinet offices within the central government in Tokyo to get subsidy money.

Subsidy money, the NPO leaders agree, is the key to stimulating action in the downtown area, and hopefully to help with commercializing developing. There’s more, they say, with an eye to new facilities for the aged and for children, so all can live safely and happily in the downtown area. The NPO proposal is to take subsidy money from the government and reform the empty shop areas, attracting people from all over Okinawa.

Many of the empty storefronts can be converted, NPO leaders say, into children’s preschools, nursery schools, health centers or aged peoples’ day care centers. There are no particular requirements, the leaders say, instead focusing on finding “ways to try to make people start coming to live downtown. That is renovation thinking.” Leaders say it is possible to turn the downtown area around. “Let’s make downtown more an activity town together,” says one official. “Let’s bring good ideas to make this stimulation town.”

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