2.67 billion yen earmarked for Okinawan project studies

The government said April 25 it will allocate 2.67 billion yen to fund a feasibility study for 10 proposed programs aimed at boosting the economy in Okinawa Prefecture.

The outlay is part of 5 billion yen that Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto pledged in September to spend in hopes of swaying Okinawa Gov. Masahide Ota to reverse his opposition to the forced leasing of land for U.S. military facilities in Okinawa. Of the sum, 740 million yen will be put toward a feasibility study of infrastructure projects such as telecommunications, airports and seaports.

For a feasibility study of projects to promote international trade and transportation, 330 million yen will be allocated. The central government believes that coming up with sufficient economic projects will help soothe Okinawa residents who are frustrated over the lack of visible progress in the return of land currently used for U.S. bases. Residents in the prefecture have claimed that too much concentration of U.S. bases in Okinawa is hampering local economic development.