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Most U.S. troops in mainland Japan and Okinawa saw a dip in their paycheck July 1 as the cost-of-living allowance dropped throughout the country.

In two weeks, COLA has fallen either four or two points, depending on location. But since May the decline has been steeper.

For an E-6 stationed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi near Tokyo with 10 years of experience and three dependents, his COLA for a two-week pay period was $528.33 on May 1. For the first two weeks in July, that technical sergeant is bringing home $422.67 in COLA — a difference of about $106.

An E-2 assigned to Okinawa living in the barracks is making about $12 less a month in July, if COLA rates hold steady. Compared to May, he or she is earning about $44 less a month in COLA.

According to the latest message posted Monday on the Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Committee’s Web site, COLA changes in Japan this month are due to a fluctuating foreign currency rate in relation to the U.S. dollar.

In adjusting COLA for the current pay period, the committee used a Japanese yen rate of 107.41, compared to 104.16 for the second half of June.

The former is nearly a 10-point drop since April in the yen-to-dollar exchange rate used by the committee to set COLA.

The lowest exchange rate used by the committee this year was a yen rate of 92.9, for the pay period beginning April 1.

That same technical sergeant at Atsugi earned $581.17 per pay period in COLA then.

According to a July 1 story in the Wall Street Journal, the dollar gained 6.5 percent on the Japanese yen from April to June.

For more information or to calculate COLA rates, go to

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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