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Funds earmarked for promotion of Okinawa used for AKB48 election

AKB48 released its 49th single
AKB48 released its 49th single prior t the holding of its General Election in Okinawa Prefecture in June

OKINAWA (TR) – Revelations that funds for the development of Okinawa Prefecture were put toward a promotional event featuring the all-girl pop group AKB48 in Tomigusuku City are raising concerns within the government about spending, reports the Mainichi Shimbun (Aug. 6).

A total of 28 million yen of government funds were allocated for the group’s General Election at Chura Sun Beach in Toyosaki Seaside Park on June 17. Of that amount, 4 million yen was used to construct a stage for a related event in Naha City, the Cabinet Office said.

The money was from a 135.8-billion-yen national government grant for Okinawa for the 2017 fiscal year that is earmarked for the promotion of the prefecture.

To justify the outlay, the Okinawa prefectural government submitted a plan whereby it was claimed that the holding of the event would attract about 8,000 tourists to the prefecture during the non-peak season for this year.

Prior to the holding of the event, it was moved to a community center in Tomigusuku due to predicted inclement weather. During the proceedings, Rino Sashihara was named the most popular member for the third consecutive year.

Taro Kono questions spending

Newly appointed Foreign Minister Taro Kono, formerly theMinister in charge of Administrative Reform/Civil Service Reform, questioned the effectiveness of the spending in the long term given in a blog post, saying that there is no plan in place to ensure that the event will be held in Okinawa more than once.

“We believe that a certain positive effect was achieved in attracting tourists,” a prefectural government official was quoted, “but there was an insufficient outlook to the future to ensure it extends for more than one year. I would like to coordinate with the Cabinet Office regarding how to set performance indicators.”

According to Kono, the budget for the entire event was 140 million yen.