Okinawa Prefecture Eyes Planned City on Military Port Site

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
This aerial photo shows Naha Airport in May 2020.

The Okinawa prefectural government aims to build a planned city combining an airport and a sea port with hotels and other commercial facilities by using Naha Airport and the current site of a U.S. military port set to be returned to Japan, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The prefectural government is considering implementation of its Okinawa Promotion Plan beginning in fiscal 2022, which will be 50 years since the prefecture’s reversion to Japanese administration.

The plan is centered on the concept of “a city with both an airport and a port,” making use of Naha Airport and the U.S. Naha Military Port.

In addition to developing a transportation network that will combine sea and air routes, the prefecture also plans to concentrate hotels and commercial facilities within the city. In addition, the prefecture plans to set up a comprehensive center to provide language and technical training to workers from Asian countries.

According to the prefectural government, the promotion plan covers a 10-year period from fiscal 2022. The U.S. military port is to be returned in fiscal 2028 or later on the assumption that its functions will be relocated to off Urasoe in the prefecture. The Urasoe municipal government has expressed its acceptance of the relocation. With an eye on making effective use of the port site, the prefectural government is seeking its return as soon as possible because it is close to Naha Airport and the central part of Naha.

Also, the prefecture expects to benefit from a revival of the Asian economy after the novel coronavirus pandemic abates. For this reason, it plans to consider expanding the airport in areas including the site of the military port and establishing medical facilities in the airport to strengthen the quarantine system.

The center for Asian human resources will provide training for work in Japan. It will accept trainees in Okinawa Prefecture, which is geographically close to Asia, train and send them on to other prefectures. The move is aimed at helping solve the labor shortage caused by Japan’s shrinking population.

The prefectural government plans to draw up a detailed version of the plan in fiscal 2021. It then aims to finalize the plan in May 2022 after reaching an agreement with the central government.