Okinawa adopts new development plan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki, left, hands a document detailing a new development plan to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Ginowan, Okinawa, on Sunday.

NAHA (Jiji Press) — The prefectural government of Okinawa on Sunday adopted a new economic development program, which calls for boosting the incomes of local residents, among other goals.

The program, the sixth of its kind and covering the 10 years until fiscal 2031, said that Okinawa Prefecture is still halfway toward building a self-sustaining economy although the economic gaps between the prefecture and the rest of the country have been narrowing.

It stressed that the Okinawa prefectural government aims to raise the prefecture’s per-capita income, which continues to be the lowest among the 47 prefectures of the country, by about 30% from the fiscal 2020 level through such measures as making the mainstay tourism industry and the information and communications sector have greater value.

Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki handed a document detailing the program to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida after attending a ceremony held in the Okinawa city of Ginowan the same day to mark the 50th anniversary of the prefecture’s return to Japan from post-World War II U.S. occupation.

“All Okinawa residents will work in unity to realize a vision they wish for the prefecture,” Tamaki told Kishida.

In response, Kishida said, “The government aims to promote the growth of Okinawa as one of the items in its national strategy to support the prefecture’s self-sustaining development and help its residents live a prosperous life.”

The Okinawa development program was first created in 1972, when it returned to Japanese rule, as the prefecture had been left behind during the rapid postwar economic recovery in other parts of the country at the time.

The sixth program was formulated on the basis of a policy compiled by the central government under the special law on Okinawa development.

Noting that addressing child poverty is one of priority issues, the program called for increasing local residents’ incomes by strengthening their abilities to earn, to resolve the cycle of poverty in which parents’ poverty is passed on to their children.

As specific measures, the program proposed setting up workation hubs at sightseeing spots in the prefecture, raising the number of tourists from other parts of Japan and abroad and increasing their spending, and improving Naha Airport in Naha and port facilities in the prefecture to nurture them into international logistics bases.

Among issues related to U.S. bases, the program stressed the need to redouble efforts to seek the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station to a place outside of Okinawa Prefecture or of Japan to realize the closure of the base and the return of the base site to Japan at an early date.

The prefecture will cooperate with the National Governors’ Association and others to win understanding for its stance on the Futenma issue from more and more people in the nation, according to the program.

The central government is working to transfer the Futenma base, now in a congested area in Ginowan, to the Henoko coastal district in Nago City, also in Okinawa Prefecture.