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SECURITY

Okinawa budget cut by 14 billion yen

  • August 26, 2016
  • , Ryukyu Shimpo , p. 1
  • JMH Translation

The Cabinet Office on Thursday allocated 321 billion yen in the FY 2017 budget for Okinawa-related spending, 14 billion (4.2%) less than in the initial FY 2016 budget. The budget was approved in the LDP’s Cabinet Division meeting. In the new budget, the lump-sum government subsidies for Okinawa revitalization were reduced by 27.5 billion (17%) from FY 2016. Among the items, the 33 billion yen marked for an additional runway construction at Naha Airport and 16.7 billion yen subsidies for the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate School (OIST) was merged with the rest of the budget. The government approved almost all of the requests from the prefecture regarding expansion and extension of nine preferential tax systems.

 

Excluding the amount allocated for the runway and the OIST, about 271 billion yen will be allocated to Okinawa. It is the lowest amount Okinawa has received since the government promised the prefecture an annual budget of over 300 billion in 2014.

 

The relationship between governments of Tokyo and Okinawa has been strained due to the issue of the relocation of the U.S. Futenma airbase to Henoko in Nago City. Some in the Tokyo government are leaning toward allowing linkage of Okinawa revitalization subsidies to the base issue. Depending on future developments led by Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, FY2017 supplementary budget–to be discussed at the end of the year–may be slashed further.

 

The lump-sum subsidies for Okinawa revitalization (133.8 billion yen) include special subsidies for Okinawa revitalization (“soft subsidies”, referring to subsidies meant to support the next generation) totaling 66.8 billion yen, which is 13.8 billion less than the last year, and public investment subsidies for Okinawa revitalization (“hard subsidies”) totaling 67 billion yen, 13.7 billion yen less than the last year. The low execution of the FY 2015 allocation to these categories resulted in a smaller amount being allocated this year. Expenditures on public works, including projects under national control such as the Naha Airport runway construction and subsidy projects for local governments will grow by 10.1 billion, totaling 152.4 billion yen.

 

One billion yen will be allocated for new initiatives such as; attracting corporations to the prefecture, creating a craftmanship industry to take advantage of distribution zones, and promoting projects to foster Okinawa’s industrial innovation with the collaboration of OIST and various businesses. Another billion yen will be spent on innovative initiatives to promote revitalization on Okinawa’s remote islands.

 

As for ongoing projects, “the emergency project to eliminate child poverty in Okinawa” will receive 1.1 billion yen, a 10% increase from the last year. 1.25 billion yen will be set aside for promoting usage of the land returned to Okinawa in the west Futenma residential area (Ginowan City,) and other measures for lands returned by the U.S. military. The budget allocates 2.57 billion for the northern Okinawa revitalization project and 0.15 billion yen to conduct the necessary studies for introduction of train systems. These numbers are unchanged from FY 2016. The “Okinawa regional safety patrol”– established after the rape and murder of an Okinawa woman by a U.S. base worker — will receive 0.87 billion yen.

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