Japan diet OKs extension of special law for Okinawa

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Diet on Thursday enacted a bill to extend a special law for the development of Okinawa Prefecture, which had been scheduled to expire the same day, by an additional 10 years.

The bill to revise the law was approved unanimously at the day’s plenary meeting of the House of Councillors. It cleared the House of Representatives earlier.

While the period of extension was kept unchanged at the request of parties concerned including the Okinawa prefectural government, the law was given a new provision stipulating that its contents be reviewed within five years in response to changes in society.

The law newly requires efforts to be made for tackling challenges facing Okinawa, such as industrial development in remote islands and the northern part of the prefecture, and the eradication of child poverty.

Meanwhile, the tax cuts for beer and quasi-beer, and “awamori” distilled spirits produced in Okinawa will be scrapped in stages by 2032.

The law, aimed at promoting the self-sustaining development of Okinawa, came into force in 1972, when it returned to Japanese rule following postwar U.S. occupation, and has been renewed every 10 years.

After as many as 50 years since the return of Okinawa, some in the government and the ruling coalition had been cautious about a simple extension of the law, leading to the addition of the review clause.

“We’ll push ahead with a new development plan that starts in this milestone year, aiming to help Okinawa achieve sustainable development where social, economic and environmental themes are harmonized,” Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki said in a statement released after the enactment of the amendment.