(1) Changes in Domestic and International Scenes
Now that the cold war is over, the world moves toward creating a new global order which fits the structure of the post-cold war era. Improvements on transportation and dramatic growth in information technology have brought new levels of activity in trade, investment, and information exchange. The world economy grows toward globalization. Today, the world faces a number of important issues in the structural change of international situations. These include global problems relating to environment, population, AIDS, increasing racial and regional conflicts, and the North-South problem in which the economic gaps between the leading nations and the developing countries are widening in serious proportions.
With its vast land and diversity in people, religion, and social systems, the Asian region is becoming a growing center for global economy, and its prospect to achieve economic growth, which exceeds Japan in the near future, is high. Exchanges of people and commodities within Asia will soon account for most of the world's trade. As a result, we anticipate a rapid increase of exchanges between Japan and the other Asian countries. Therefore, it will become increasing important for our prefecture to be in active involvement with other Asian countries, while observing developments in regional economic zones which cross national boundaries (e.g., the Greater South China Economic Zone) and effects of the forthcoming return of Hong Kong to China.
Within Japan, we are witnessing the emergence of socioeconomic conditions, such as progress in deregulation and decentralization, which cannot be handled solely by the conventional frameworks and principles. While we can still expect a low rate of economic growth in the long term, we also see greater demands on the administration as a result of the aging society and the growing diversity in people's values. In the provinces, there is a need to make policies which relies on the region's decision and responsibility to enhance the regional individuality and diversity of natural environment, history, customs, culture, and geographical features.
(2) Issues facing Okinawa
Promotion and development in Okinawa has been operated by three consecutive Okinawa Promotion and Development Plans which have yielded significant progress in consolidating infrastructure. However, many problems remain to be solved, including severely high unemployment conditions caused by delays in industrial developments, an economic structure over-reliant on government expenditures, and the presence of vast United States military bases. Particularly serious is the presence of U.S. military bases on Okinawa which accounts for approximately 75% of all exclusive-use U.S. military facilities in Japan; they occupy 11% of the total land area of the prefecture and 20% of Okinawa Island. Especially in the central and southern regions of the Okinawa Island which is home to about 80% of the population and where urban functions are concentrated, the bases cover 16% of the area imposing restrictions on the use of land, and in many ways, obstructing development within the prefecture.
The U.S. military bases have adverse effects on the community such as limiting social and economic activity by its restrictions on the use of sea and air space, causing noise pollution, and destroying natural environment by military training exercises. Traffic problems and overcrowding in areas adjacent to the bases create poor residential conditions and create strains on the prefectural framework. To remedy this situation, it is vital to promote planned and phased returns of the land used by U.S. military bases, to establish an environment where the people of Okinawa can live with a peace of mind, and to make drastic improvements on the structure of the prefectural framework.
(3) Features of Okinawa
Okinawa Prefecture is located at southwestern tip of Japan. The prefecture is composed exclusively of islands with a natural environment of tropical sea zone and a subtropical land area. With Naha at the center of a circle and Kurile Islands at the farther rim, almost all major cities of East and Southeast Asia (such as Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, Manila, and Hanoi) fall within a 3,000 kilometer radius. These geographical characteristics allowed Okinawa to play an important role as a center of exchange throughout the regions in East Asia Sea, South China Sea, and the Yellow Sea during the heyday of the Ryukyu Kingdom (circa 15th century). The Ryukyuan kingdom flourished as a trading state, engaging in tributary trade with China and commerce with Japan and Southeast Asian nations. Through the peaceful trade conducted in Southeast Asian nations including Siam, Malacca, Luzon, and Cambodia, Okinawans skillfully incorporated elements of those foreign cultures into their own.
At the beginning of Edo period (early 17th century), the Ryukyu Kingdom lost its independence following the invasion by Satsuma domain of southern Kyushu. The nation remained under the control of the Satsuma domain until the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century, when it was forced to accept a new position as a prefecture of Japan. During the Second World War, Okinawa was the site of a fierce land battle which involved the local populace. The central and southern areas of Okinawa Island were reduced to burnt grounds. Following the war, Okinawa was under the U.S. military occupation until its Reversion to Japan in 1972.
Over the centuries, Okinawa has maintained close relations with China, Korea, and Southeast Asia, and after the Second World War, it came under the influence of the United States. This prefecture has a long history of exchange with nations spread far and wide from east to west, north to south. As a consequence of its historical experience, Okinawa has a highly diverse and distinct culture which holds an unusual position within the Japanese culture. The Okinawan people are renowned for friendliness, generosity and easy-going manner, as embodied in their favorite phrase ichariba chodei or "Once we meet, we are as brothers" and seen in yuimaaru or the tradition of cooperating in labor and the willingness to accept diversity.
(4) Okinawa's Role
Postwar Japan has undergone remarkable economic development within the framework of a free trade system and now enjoys prosperity as Asia's leading economy. In future years, Japan will be expected to contribute to the world not only on the economic level, but to play an internationally important role through contributions in environment, art, culture, science, and research. We are expected to make active contributions to the development of peace and establish cooperative relationships in the Asian Pacific region. The promotion of exchange and ties throughout the world, especially with other Asian countries, is a part of basic Japanese policy. However, the responsibility of international contributions should not be limited to a particular region. Each region must play a part in contribution according to its geographical and historical features as well as its nature and area of experiences.
Located at the southwest boundaries of Japan, Okinawa is characterized by its subtropical oceanic climate and a distinctive culture. Okinawa has a long history of close economic, cultural, and other ties with the nations of East and Southeast Asia. Today, when the role of Japan is expected to play in Asia and the world is broadening in scope, Okinawa can make use of its regional characteristics and historical experiences in exchanges with Asian nations. Contributions in various fields such as industry, economy, science, and personnel training will not only enhance self sufficient development of Okinawa but raise Japan's status in the world.
Based on the traditional value of coexistence and peace, Okinawa must shift from its position as the main U.S. military base in the Far East to a base for peace promulgation, a center of research and technological cooperation in global environmental issues, and a center for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) activities. Acting as Japan's southern gateway for international exchange and cooperation, Okinawa aims to play a part in Japan's responsibility towards peace contribution and sustainable development in the Asian Pacific region.
(1) Basic Principle and Goals
In its progress towards the 21st century, Okinawa will set self-sufficiency as a basic principle while holding the values of coexistence and peace. We shall work for self-sufficient development and contribute to peace and sustainable development in the Asian Pacific region while promoting various exchanges by making the most of Okinawa's historical and cultural heritage and its natural environment.
(2) Basic Policy
The following basic policies are established to develop international exchange and cooperation which fully utilizes local features and to establish new networks links between Okinawa and the Asian Pacific region.
Okinawa was the only prefecture in Japan to experience land battle which involved civilians in the Pacific War. This tragedy resulted in the loss of 230,000 lives, and people who survived were left with their cultural treasures ruined and the natural environment devastated. Many war memorials are sited in the southern Okinawa Island which reminds us the inhumanity of war that must never be repeated and the preciousness of peace. Currently, Okinawa is the site for the largest concentration of U.S. military bases in the Far East which provokes people's thoughts toward structure of peace in the 21st century. Such being the past and present situation, Okinawa intends to promote international exchange and inter-regional diplomacy. Okinawa shall contribute to world-wide peace by establishing a center for peace education and research and a network that focus on the idea of peace and link to other Asian Pacific regions. These lines of communication will serve to spread the messages of peace throughout the world, on a basis of mutual understanding and coexistence, and assist in constructing the international framework of peace.
Okinawa Prefecture has a source of technological expertise pertaining to subtropical environment, insular characteristics, and oceanic characteristics. Taking into account that the relationships with Asian Pacific region deepens in economy and environmental issues, Okinawa shall contribute to the sustainable development of Asian Pacific region by developing international technical cooperation in the Asian Pacific region and promoting scientific and research exchange in various fields.
[Economic and Cultural Exchange]
There are several regional and inter-regional economic zones, including the Greater South China Economic Zone, in the Asian Pacific region which are making significant economic progress. Okinawa shall make use of its geographical location sited in the middle of East Asia and function as a base for economic, cultural exchange and human interaction in these regions. This will enable stronger economic and cultural links to consolidate networks for the mutual understanding and the developments in Okinawa and Asian Pacific region.
(3) Policy Directions
To develop Okinawa's self-sufficiency and to contribute to the peace and sustainable development in the Asian Pacific region, we must promote planned and phased returns of the U.S. military bases and transform from an island of military bases to an island of peace. In order to promote a variety of international cooperation and exchange, the below measures based on basic principles will be implemented.
a) Establishment of a Base for North-South Exchange
Efforts will be made to promote science, culture, and technology based on factors unique to Okinawa as well as generate information aimed specifically at the Asian Pacific region. We will further consolidate our infrastructure to include airports, harbors, and information communications systems. The prefecture will establish overseas Representative Offices to serve as activity centers and promote expansion of exchange through networks with Okinawan emigrant populations. In addition, foundations for functional tie-ups shall be created, and an inter- regional network without losing local identity shall be built, while the prefecture's infrastructure suppressed by the presence of U.S. military bases is restored. To form a self-sufficient network, the central and southern parts of Okinawa Island shall become the core for providing mutual transactions between northern Okinawa Island, Miyako and Yaeyama regions.
b) Establishing an "Environmental Coexistence Model Zone"
To promote regional development, our social environment which has nurtured Okinawa as one of the few areas of longevity as well as the warm climate and rich natural environment, must be recognized as a factor which makes Okinawa attractive. Therefore, we must work for sustainable development in harmony with these environments. Efforts will be made to create an "Environmental Coexistence Model Zone" which may serve as a model for sustainable regional development. The information on its ideals and results will be released to the world.
c) Establishing and Promoting New Industries Appropriate for the 21st Century
Industrialization with emphasis on overseas exchanges shall be promoted (for instance, providing support to venture enterprises which plan on extending their businesses to foreign market). New industries involved in fields such as medicine, health, environment, information and multimedia networks and businesses which draw customers shall be established and fostered. Additionally, to promote a wider scope of business activity which in turn will expand employment opportunities, a "Special Economic Zone," in which industrial and economical activities as a cosmopolitan city can be operated, shall be formed by promotion of deregulation, expansion of existing regulations, and strategic implementation of new regulations.
d) Establishing Attractive Resorts
We propose to build international recreation resorts that will contribute to preservation while making full use of Okinawa's rich natural environment and cultural attraction. We intend to consolidate and improve exchange programs (science, research, and personnel training facilities) and high urban functions pertinent to cosmopolitan cities, with a view in creating links between resorts and Research and Development facilities and establishing attractive resorts where working area and leisure facilities exist in close proximity.
e) Creating Well Provided and High Quality Living Environments
Along with the preservation and regeneration of Okinawa's natural environment and cultural assets, we shall promote activities which focus on creating a new cultural structure. A further goal is to form a well provided and high quality living environment where people can reside, work, play, and rest. We shall work with the local citizens to improve regional conditions without losing its regional qualities and separate functions required to establish Okinawa as a cosmopolitan city.
f) Promoting Training and Securing Human Resources
To become an international center which will contribute to the self-sufficiency of this prefecture and to promote peace and sustainable development in Asian Pacific region, efforts will be made to train and secure a range of talented people possessing international knowledge and capacity for active participation to respond to the ever changing socioeconomic conditions.
g) Promoting Internationalization in Regions
To provide an environment which can aid in the exchange of goods and people with foreign countries, a wide range of exchange and tie-ups must be encouraged. Aside from promoting volunteer and NGO activities, local regions will be encouraged to participate directly in exchanges and cooperation with Asia and other nations within the region's capacity.