February 23, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
On February 22, Professor Masaki Tomochi from the Department of Economics at Okinawa International University presented his trial calculations regarding the economic benefit to Okinawa if the U.S. military’s Kadena Air Base is returned. According to his calculations, “a direct economic benefit” of approximately 1.46 trillion-yen a year will be generated by the site being redeveloped. His calculations are based on the equations used by the Okinawa prefecture for estimating the economic benefits from the base being returned for “(areas) south of Kadena.” The “gross value added” after subtracting the expenses is approximately 822 billion-yen.
The prefecture made the calculations assuming that the resort, convention, and cultural industries would expand into “(areas) south of Kadena” after the base is returned. Professor Tomochi applied these equations to Kadena Air Base and multiplied that number by the price of land for the three municipalities in which the base is located.
The three municipalities have not come up with concrete plans for redeveloping the area where Kadena Air Base is currently located. Because of this, Okinawa City and Kadena Town have used 69.8 billion-yen per hectare for Camp Foster and Chatan has used 49.5 billion-yen per hectare for Camp Lester for their calculations. The values were provided by the prefecture. Kadena Air Base covers 1,985 hectares: 742.5 hectares from Okinawa City, 879 hectares from Kadena Town, and 363.5 hectares from Chatan. Multiplying the economic benefits per hectare, land price scale, and the three areas results in the economic benefit for each of the municipalities. Adding these numbers together gives the economic benefit from having Kadena Air Base returned. The benefits of redeveloping the Kadena Ammunition Storage Area, located in a forested area, were deemed limited. Therefore, it was not included in the calculations.
Professor Tomochi pointed out, “While our calculations show economic incentives for having the base returned, this was not our intention because in the end, the base issue is a peace and human rights issue.” He also emphasized, “(We) would like the government to become the main body in calculating the economic loss incurred from the base and to lead discussions. Even for the bases that are not part of the Special Action Committee on Facilities and Areas in Okinawa (SACO) agreement, it is important to estimate numbers for them and to not assume from the start that they ‘will not come back.’”
Up until now, Professor Tomochi has presented paper(s) on trial calculations including the military facilities within Okinawa and the Self-Defense Force bases as a part of “an examination of the Ryukyu (Okinawa) economy after all bases are removed and all subsidies were abolished.”
According to his calculations, a direct economic benefit of 3,842,600,000,000-yen will result from all bases being removed. Of that, 2,952,600,000-yen is for bases that are not part of the return agreement, which is a part of the SACO.
(English translation by T&CT and Chelsea Ashimine)