Furusato taxes reach record high, continuing to rise since Onaga administration

February 26, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

Donations to Okinawa Prefecture’s “Chura Yuimaru Donation,” part of the Furusato Tax Program, which allows residents to divert part of their residence and income tax to a local government of their choice, are increasing. In the fiscal year 2016, as of the end of December last year, the tax payment amounted to 79,344,980 yen, which was about 1.75 times the 2015 total (about 34.08-million-yen increase), and a new record. According to the Prefectural Tax Department, donations have increased since Governor Takeshi Onaga, who opposes the construction of the new Henoko base, was inaugurated. There was also a significant donation of over one million yen in the fiscal year of 2016.

Competitions of returning goods occur nationwide to collect donations of the Furusato Tax. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is considering corrective measures. Okinawa Prefecture stopped giving away locally produced goods in return since January 2016. Despite that, donations are still increasing. The Tax Division noted rising awareness of the program and stated that pure donations without an aim for return is much appreciated.

As of the end of December 2016, the number of donations decreased by 313 from the fiscal year of 2015 to 541 cases. Among them, individual donations dropped by 314 cases, to 537 cases. However, the amount increased by 1.72 times (about 3,232 million yen increase) to 77,232,177 yen. The number of companies rose to 4, about 5.93 times (about 1.76 million yen increase), 2,112,803 yen.

There were five significant donations in the fiscal year of 2015, but nine by the end of December 2016. Details of donors are not disclosed, however, 97% donate from outside of the prefecture, and some donate twice or more. Donors who agree with Governor Onaga’s political stance enclose messages such as “Please protect the sea,” “For peace activities,” “Use it to improve child poverty.”

The Furusato tax payment gets incorporated into general revenue that the prefecture can use freely. As of the end of December 2016 it was expected to exceed 56,279,000 yen, which is the amount of budget assigned to the Henoko New Base Construction problem countermeasure project planned for the fiscal year of 2017.

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)

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