USJ cancels planned theme park in Okinawa

Kyodo

The operator of Universal Studios Japan has canceled plans for a theme park in Okinawa, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. He said USJ will instead focus investment on its existing USJ park in Osaka.

The central government had earmarked ¥120 million in the fiscal 2016 budget bill to bring the theme park to Okinawa. The venture was seen as likely to boost the local economy.

Tokyo has been casting about for ways to diffuse local opposition to the relocation of a major U.S. military facility within Okinawa.

USJ’s cancelation is “extremely regrettable,” Suga told a news conference Wednesday. “The government will do whatever it can to promote Okinawa’s economy,” he said, adding that the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and giving Okinawa an economic leg-up are “two different things.”

Jean Louis Bonnier, chief executive officer of USJ Co., told a senior official at the Prime Minister’s Office of the decision in person, Suga said.

Bonnier is from USJ’s parent company, U.S. media and cable operator giant Comcast Corp., which was reluctant to proceed with the project from a commercial perspective.

The plan to build a theme park in Okinawa by 2020 was devised before Comcast acquired a controlling 51 percent stake in USJ last November.