NAHA is home to more than 300,000 people. As the capital city of Okinawa prefecture, Naha serves as a political, economic, and education centre of Okinawa. Fostering these key roles of the city is Mayor Mikiko Shiroma, Naha’s two-term female leader that has used her perspective as a citizen, a woman, and an educator to develop the city. Her focus on children, education, and local economic development (among many others), reflects her interpretation on sustainable urban development: giving benefit to the current generation and preparing the next generation.

Particular focus on childcare and education is reflected on her first-term of leadership. Mayor Mikiko increased the number of authorised daycare centres, from 70 to 141. She also increased the capacity of nurseries to be able to accommodate 11,405 people (from 7,422). Not only physical facility, Mayor Mikiko also put emphasis on the quality of human resources through development of city’s scholarship system and establishment of Children’s Future Support Project Promotion Fund. The latter aims to help nurture children in poverty and to secure educational opportunities. Besides, she increased the number of regional community-based comprehensive support centre, from 12 to 18 locations.

Her achievements during first term of leadership gained support from local people of Naha and made her continue to the second term. Embracing the same spirit, Mayor Mikiko looks into the field of education, economy as well as culture and living in developing Naha. In her second term, Mayor Mikiko has established public contract regulation aiming to secure proper wages for types of works required by the city. She has also expanded regional support centre that comprehensively secures medical, nursing, prevention, and livelihood support. In the field of culture, Mayor Mikiko has constructed a new culture hall and a new civic centre to pass on traditional culture as well as transmit new culture and art. In her second term, Mayor Mikiko still gives attention to children and education. It is well reflected on her ideas to provide children (up to middle-school graduation age) with free medical fees, free childcare charges (in collaboration with prefectural government), and to increase the number of childcare centres.

Photo of Naha: flickr (Okinawa Soba)