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Fluctuating foreign exchange rates have tipped the cost-of-living allowance for servicemembers in Japan and South Korea in opposite directions for the second half of August.

In South Korea, many locations, including Camp Humphreys, Camp Casey, Inchon, Kunsan Air Base, Busan and Seoul, saw a cost-of-living allowance increase of four points.

COLA in Japan, meanwhile, was whittled by two points in Iwakuni, Misawa, Okinawa, Sasebo, Tokyo and Yokosuka, among other locations. The allowance didn’t budge for Atsugi, Camp Fuji, and Camp Zama.

The Pentagon’s Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee posted the new COLA rates online over the weekend. The changes were effective Saturday.

The committee noted that the latest COLA changes in Japan and South Korea were due to foreign exchange rate adjustments to the COLA index.

In South Korea, an average of 976.01 won-to-the-dollar was used to calculate COLA, adjusted from 1,031.07.

In Japan, the yen rate was 106.7, up from 105.1.

The per diem committee looks at exchange rates twice a month and adjusts COLA when it changes 5 percent, up or down, U.S. Forces Japan officials have said.

With the COLA hike in South Korea, an E-5 with 10 years of service and 3 dependents in Seoul is getting about $70 more in COLA.

An E-3, by contrast, with four years of service living in the barracks is receiving about $18 more this paycheck. Servicemembers living in the dorms receive 47 percent COLA.

With one extra day of COLA in the current paycheck — there are 31 days in August, padding this paycheck with 16 instead of 15 days — the drop in COLA in Japan isn’t drastic.

For instance, for an O-3 with six years of experience and two dependents assigned to Sasebo Naval Base, COLA decreased by less than $10 for the second half of August.

COLA is a supplement paid to offset the higher cost of goods and services for military members stationed abroad. The average supplement is $300 per month, according to the Pentagon.

For more information on COLA rates, go to: http://perdiem.hqda.pentagon.mil/ perdiem/

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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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