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9. Tachi no Shita kara: The Second Kin Town General Plan

In August of 1979 the Yaka Rest Centre, a small 8-hectare facility, was handed back to Kin.[1] Added to the 200-hectares of somayama, known as the Yaka Training Area, returned in 1974; land for the Okinawa Expressway (and Yaka service station), and; small areas for public utility-related construction: Okinawa Denryoku (Okinawa Electricity) and dam construction, the extent of Kin’s land under US military control was reduced from over 68% (in 1972) to 60%. From 1979-2002 this has dropped by a tiny amount to 59.6%.[2] This illustrates the negative dimension of base consolidation (kichi seiri): that is, while it can result in the return of facilities and areas of land it also necessarily means that what remains in US control is likely to stay that way for longer as a result of streamlining. This is difficult in a municipality like Kin where land has long been valued beyond the monetary. As outlined in Chapter One, Kin contains no national government lands.[3] With the promulgation of the Somayama shobun kisoko (regulations governing disposition of forest land) in 1906, the Meiji Government sold protected national forests on which it received no taxes. To protect Kin’s mountains, forests, and fields, and in honour of ancestors who worked so hard on the land, private individuals and municipalities purchased every tsubo for sale.[4] Kin is unique among the shi-cho-son of northern Okinawa in this.[5] That said, there has been a muddling of these noble principles since the Vietnam War in the mid-1960’s, and particularly since reversion, because of the huge amount of gunyochiryo (military land rentals) that the Kin government and private landowners receive, and the degree to which bases fuel Kin’s public finances. Balancing the economic base benefits against the negative social impact on local people (“kichi higai ni nayamu chiiki jumin”): with rapes, robberies, murders, assaults, public drunkenness, property damage, and such,[6] it has been said Kin’s situation might be summed up by the Ryukyu proverb tachinu shichakarado jinya mokirariiru, or (very loosely) “one can profit with a sword at one’s throat.”[7] In as much as Kin land staying within the family, this is gradually being whittled away. Because of the high unearned annual return on gunyochi (base land)[8] since reversion, such areas have become highly sought after by real estate agents and those looking for a sure-fire investment. As a result, pieces of land have been sold to gaijin (outsiders).  

By the time Kin started to think about its next long-term development plan it had undergone a transformation from son (village) to cho (town).[9] At the same time, there was political stability, with Mayor Yoshida Katsuei remaining in power for 12-years (1976-1988).[10] This continuity was helpful from a planning perspective. In 1983, a short document titled Kin-cho Shinko Kaihatsu Kihon Keikaku (Basic Plan for the Promotion and Development of Kin Town) appeared.[11] It was a brief assessment of the first plan’s progress with just two years to run before target year [for Per Capita Income trends in Kin see Fig. 15]. Kin-cho need not have bothered. With the exception of a downward reevaluation of population growth to a more realistic 10,100-persons (11,500 was predicted), the verdict was that in most areas the plan was going according to schedule. Since few numerical targets had been originally set this is difficult to dispute.[12] The only statements regarding focus areas mentioned “orderly” residential areas, the expansion of cultivatable land, environmental protection measures for streams, coast lines, and such, and an increase in (fuchi) “tasteful” public and tourist-oriented recreational areas.[13] Much of this was rehashed in the first Kin-cho Kokudo Riyo Keikaku (National Land Use Plan for Kin Town) in 1985. These land plans would seem to be a municipal obligation rather than anything else, judging by how dry they are.[14] The only notable predictions are of a further increase in land under cultivation by 1990, and an expansion in residential area consistent with a population of 10,500.[15]

The Kin-cho Dainiji Sogo Keikaku (Second Kin Town General Plan), issued in April 1986, was a more comprehensive, professionally-laid out effort than the first.[16] Like the first plan it was organised into three sections: current conditions, main goals, and plan of action, with five overarching philosophies: creating a “productive, lively (kakki), affluent (yutakana) town;” emphasising “humanism and culture” in education; placing “great importance on the health and welfare of children and aged;” that will value its “beautiful greenery, clear skies and water,” and “is created by people who live here in Kin (sumu hito no tsukuru machi).”[17] These broad ‘philosophies,’ in turn, guide the underlying practical development initiatives. In terms of changes since the first plan, population growth did not develop as planned. From 1975-1980 there was a drop from 10,120- to 9,745-persons, after which it has begun to crawl back up. By 1995, the population is predicted as rising to 11,000.[18] Kin would also have to factor in the national koreika (aging society) trend. Persons over 65-years old accounted for 10% of the population, and this figure would continue to rise in the coming years.[19] Planners wanted to ensure Kin stayed ahead of the trend rather than play catch up. In as much as employment by industry, the post-reversion shift was now quite evident. According to statistics used in the plan (unfortunately from 1980), persons engaged in farming, retailing, and services, were down significantly from 1970. Gains were in fishing, construction, manufacturing, and public employment.[20] If Kin planners had acquired more modern figures, of course, they would have realised the situation was much better in 1985 than predicted, whether as a result of policies implemented in the first plan or not. The farming work force was actually up 25% on the dated 1980 figures (see Fig. 10) which, when factoring in a 50% hike in the Kin fishing work force and income since 1970, points to a healthy primary sector overall.[21] The plan hopes that further reform and modernisation will mean greater progress again in these sectors. The explosion in public works explains a 40% expansion in construction. No space is devoted to the sector in the second plan.

A troubling trend was the drop in retail and services. While a post-Vietnam US troop reduction accounts for this decline, there was still a need for reinvigoration. This, the Kin planners hoped, could be initiated with an integrated policy toward retailing, tourism development, and the construction of a better living space for locals. It was recognised that Kin’s retail and food and drink trade had long been concentrated in the Shinkaichi area near Gate One of Hansen. As late as 1982, there was a combined 466 shops, bars, restaurants, night clubs, or coffee shops, bringing in 3.5-billion yen.[22] The aim for Shinkaichi was consistent with a policy laid out earlier in the plan to make best possible use of land available (60% being occupied by US bases, of course).[23] In an unsubtle reference to Shinkaichi and its traditional role servicing troops, perhaps, the plan talks of the need for miryoku aru shogyo shisetsu, or “attractive commercial facilities.”[24] The suggestion, surely, is the redevelopment of the more drab and seedy parts of Shinkaichi with some more “orderly” (chitsujo) urban planning.[25] As before, tourism was seen as a logical way of promoting commerce in Kin across the board. What distinguishes the second plan from the first in this regard is the aggressiveness with which tourism is now pushed. The plan argues that “at present, pretty much all of the tourist and recreation facilities in northern Okinawa Island are concentrated in Onna Village on the west coast, with precious little on the eastern side. As you know, we have Kannonji, Kin Okawa, Blue Beach, Yaka Beach, Igei Beach, and Red Beach, as well as scenic spots along the Okukubi River and Kin dam, yet little development has been carried out.”[26] The objectives of the plan in this regard were: to organise a concrete tourism-recreation plan for Kin that allows for Kin’s potential to be properly understood and utilised to its full extent.[27] Separate plans would be required for the Okukubi River project, a post-reversion Blue Beach development scheme, and a golf course and related business feasibility study.[28] The entire tourist development goal was wrapped in the philosophy of preserving the beauty of Kin’s rivers, mountains, coasts, and forests. The rational for this was double-edged: firstly, tourist potential only increases when natural beauty is preserved, and; secondly, the preservation of such resources will have a spin-off effect on local people, particularly the young, who will benefit from growing up in a rich, natural environment.[29]

[1] On the history of the Yaka Rest Centre see Kin-cho to kichi, 40-42. On subsequent redevelopment of the site see Churyu gunyochi no ima to mukashi, 18-19.

[2] Of Kin’s total land area of 3,769-hectares US bases currently occupy 2,245-hectares. Okinawa no Beigun oyobi jieitai kichi: tokei shiryoshu,9.

[3] Except, as is the case with any municipality of Japan, for the coastline.

[4] Under a long-term nenpu shokan, or annual instalment repayment system (at first over a 15-year period, but from 1940 over a thirty year period).

[5] By the terms of Kyukan ni yoru Kin-cho koyu zaisan no kanrito ni kansuru jorei (Jorei daiichigo, promulgated 6th January 1982, amended 24th December 1982, and 24th May 1991), Kin families receive annual payments of 150,000-250,000-yen out of the rentals payments for somayama in the confines of US bases in recognition of the Meiji period somayama purchases. No other municipality has this kind of statute on its books.

[6] Logically, problems are related to the function of the base. At Kadena, largest US Air Force base in the Far East, people cannot escape constant aircraft noise, whereas in Ginowan City, host to MCAS Futenma, there is constant helicopter noise. In both cases people fear crashes in urban areas. At the US Navy’s White Beach facility in Katsuren people worry about water quality and other accidents since the base was a known port of call for nuclear-powered submarines. At Yomitan, US Army and Marines carried out parachute training. The people of Kin (and adjacent municipalities of Ginoza, Onna, and Nago) worried about live fire training until 1997. There were many incidents of death and injury from flying shell fragments or bullets, forest fires, house fires, and physical damage to property. Because of the number of US Marines stationed at Camp Hansen and Schwab entertainment areas have sprung up in close proximity. Kin-cho to kichi, 43-44. On the general theme of damage and crimes see Fukuchi Hiroaki, Beigun kichi hanzai: ima mo tsuzuku Okinawa no kanashimi to ikari (Tokyo: Rodo Kyoiku Centre, 1992).

[7] Kin-cho to kichi, 34.

[8] Discussed more fully in connection with Ginbaru later in the chapter.

[9] From 1st April 1980.

[10] Becoming the longest serving Kin Mayor in the postwar period. Current mayor Yoshida Katsuhiro will attempt to equal this feat in upcoming elections.

[11] Kin-cho, Kin-cho shinko kaihatsu: kihon keikaku (Kin: Kin-cho, 1983).

[12] Ibid., 2.

[13] Ibid., 6.

[14] Kin-cho, Kin-cho kokudo riyo keikaku (Kin: Kin-cho, 1985).

[15] Ibid., 12 and 5.

[16] Kin-cho, Kin-cho dainiji sogo keikaku: kihon koso, kihon keikaku - kokoro utakana, akaruku sumiyoi, katsuryoku aru machi o mezashite. (Kin: Kin-cho, 1986).

[17] Ideas fleshed out at greater length, Ibid., 24-29.

[18] Ibid., 8-9, and 23.

[19] Ibid., 11.

[20] Ibid., 13.

[21] More recent figures for specific areas were available. Of Kin’s total farming product of 1.4-billion yen, almost 65% was from livestock (pig and chicken farming), and of the remaining 35% most was from sugar cane and vegetables. Flowers were increasing in total value but pineapple was in serious decline. Planners were particularly impressed with increased productivity across Kin’s four fishing ports (Hamada, Igei, Namisato, and Yaka). Ibid., 36.

[22] This figure excluded profits from alcohol sales. Ibid., 44.

[23] Ibid., 17.

[24] Ibid., 17, and again 46.

[25] Ibid., 17.

[26] Ibid., 48.

[27] Ibid., 49.

[28] Ibid., 49.

[29] Ibid., 18-19.



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