Okinawa is a beautiful island and its people extremely pleasant and nice. As a long-time resident I have seen the island transform from a small tourist destination to what it has become. Unlike Hawaii temperate drop during winter months making ocean activities, for the most part dormant. As much as I love Okinawa, in this aspect, it doesn’t compare to Hawaii. Okinawa, when compared to Hawaii, is an affordable getaway. During key times of the year Okinawa is run over with rental cars that clog roads for many of the islands’ residents. Statistically wise I don’t know the overall impact but I do know the commute time for many of my acquaintances increases and delays to the office/place of work and heading home are caused by rental car related accidents. This is part of island growth and prosperity. Like any area with a desire to attract more tourists the eco system suffers. As an ocean going person I personally witness more and more track washing up on beaches and during summer months see shinny skims on the oceans surface. I believe the shiny skims are created from cosmetics and sun screen washing of vacationers as they enter the ocean. Although I’ve seen coral growth is some areas I have seen more areas that appear to be dying. Okinawa has been known for its beautiful water and coral reefs but with the increase tourisms these areas are being affected. Bottom line, be careful of what you wish for in the form of prosperity because when on side prospers the other suffers. If you decide to visit Okinawa or any area respect the local people and their life style and try to leave the location the way it was when you arrived. Keep all tourist destination clean, safe for future generations to also enjoy.
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For a very longtime Okinawa has and continues to receive funding and special privileges from the government of Japan. Okinawa’s infrastructure and current status as a tourist destination are due to the support, wage offset, special loans and tax incentives, etc. given to it by the government of Japan. Many of these incentives and special conditions/consideration are directly tied to the fact that Okinawa is home to many U.S. military. To the best of my knowledge Okinawa has never rejected any government of Japan funding or special incentives. Take a look at the largest shopping complex on Okinawa, AEON Ryucom. This is former site of a U.S. military golf course. Funding for this entire project was offset by the prefecture of Okinawa, with funds given to the prefecture by the government of Japan. Many tenant pay low rental fees which are offset by the prefecture with government of Japan provided funds. Point being don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
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