Those big gains in COLA last month are leveling off for U.S. servicemembers stationed in Japan.

For the first half of May, the cost-of-living allowance at most locations in Japan dropped two points or remained the same.

After increasing by six points the first half of April, COLA is trickling downward in some places.

The COLA index for military members assigned to Okinawa, for example, is 136 starting Thursday. That means an E-5 with six years of service and two dependents will earn $26.40 daily or $396 for the pay period. During the same pay period in April, the member’s COLA was $30.80 a day or $462 for the pay period.

If living in Yokosuka, that same servicemember would have brought home $528 the first half of April and could expect to earn $484 in COLA for the current pay period.

The committee used an exchange rate of 98.82 Japanese yen to the U.S. dollar to calculate the new COLA index, according to the Web site. That’s slightly higher than the 97.03 rate used for the previous pay period. In the last two weeks, the yen has dropped against the dollar, from the 100 to 104 range, according to foreign exchange data from the Bank of Japan. The military exchange rate at Community Bank on Thursday was 102 yen.

In South Korea, COLA across the peninsula for the May 1 to 15 pay period will either stay fixed or drop two points.

An O-3 assigned to Osan with four years of service and three dependents will receive $226.92 in COLA for the current pay period. That compares to $259.33 for the previous one.

The per diem committee adjusted COLA based on a won of 971.19, compared to 963.79 last month.

The new COLA rates are posted on the Pentagon’s Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee’s Web site.

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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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