Outlays to Okinawa to rise by 15%

Kyodo

The Cabinet said Tuesday that ¥346.0 billion will be earmarked for Okinawa’s economic development in the budget for fiscal 2014, up 15.3 percent from the initial allocation for the current fiscal year and even more than the requested ¥340.8 billion.

The rare move to provide more than the requested amount is aimed at coaxing Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima into approving offshore fill work to start for building a new U.S. Marine Corps air base in a coastal area of Okinawa’s main island in line with an agreement with the U.S.

The governor has said he intends to decide by the end of this month whether to authorize such work amid stiff local opposition to the envisioned relocation of Air Station Futenma within the prefecture.

Of the amount budgeted for fiscal 2014 starting April 1, ¥33.0 billion will go toward building a second runway at Naha Airport on Okinawa Island for completion by 2019. That is up from ¥13.0 billion allocated for fiscal 2013.

The budget for the promotion of the prefecture also includes ¥175.9 billion in state subsidies to the local authority, up 9.0 percent, and ¥19.8 billion for expenses related to the operation of Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, nearly double the current fiscal year’s allotment.

The central government is making arrangements to give its response Wednesday to a series of requests from Nakaima for reducing the burden on the people of Okinawa of hosting most U.S. forces in Japan.