More money for Okinawa sought

JIJI

The Cabinet Office plans to seek ¥340.8 billion in fiscal 2014 budget allocations for development programs in Okinawa, up by ¥40.7 billion from the previous year’s initial budget, officials said Tuesday.

The total includes ¥30 billion to fund a project to build a second runway at Naha Airport. This is ¥17 billion more than the allocations for the initial budget for fiscal 2013 ending in March.

The increased budget request reflects the government’s intention to comply with local demands in the hope of making progress on stalled plans to replace U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the prefecture, sources said.

Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima has called on the central government to increase spending on the airport project while keeping the overall development budget for the prefecture at least the same level as in fiscal 2013.

The budget request also includes ¥167.1 billion in grants that the prefecture can use as it chooses, up by ¥5.8 billion, as well as ¥19.8 billion in subsidies for the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, which opened in September, up by ¥9.5 billion.