Ex-official accused of bribes in Camp Schwab, Guam move projects
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japanese prosecutors are probing allegations that a former vice minister received bribes and other favors from a defense contractor involving construction of new runways on Camp Schwab and the planned move of Okinawa-based Marines to Guam.
A Ministry of Defense spokeswoman on Tuesday said the investigation should not delay the plan to move Marine air operations on Okinawa to Camp Schwab and move other key units to Guam by 2014.
Former Vice Defense Minister Takemasa Moriya, 63, who retired in August, was arrested Nov. 28.
Moriya was arrested with his wife on suspicion they received almost 4 million yen, about $36,000, in bribes from Motonobu Miyazaki, a defense contractor involved in construction of the Camp Schwab project and surveying and waste disposal contracts for military facilities on Guam, according to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
Miyazaki was arrested on suspicion of paying the bribes. He has also been indicted for allegedly embezzling funds from his former employer to wine and dine U.S. officials involved in the planning for realigning U.S. troops in Japan.
A key part of the May 2006 realignment agreement between the United States and Japan was a plan to build two new runways on the lower part of Camp Schwab and reclaimed land in Oura Bay to replace Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and transfer some 8,000 Marines and their family members to Guam.
Miyazaki formed his own company in September 2006 and allegedly received favorable treatment from Moriya, who was instrumental in the government’s review of the Futenma relocation plan, according to the Asahi Shimbun.
Miyazaki, the newspaper reported, had expected to make more than 10 billion yen, or $90 million, in profits from the Guam transfer. Japan has agreed to pay $6 billion of the estimated $10 billion cost of the move, which includes housing for the Marines and their families.
On Tuesday, Miwako Ueyonahara, an official of the Okinawa prefectural government’s Futenma Relocation Project Team, predicted Moriya’s arrest would lead to a “resumption of a healthy dialogue” between Tokyo and Okinawa over the Camp Schwab project.
Okinawa Gov. Hirokazu Nakaima has asked Tokyo to move the Camp Schwab runways farther offshore to reduce noise for residents. Moriya was “rigidly” against any such move, Ueyonahara said.
“The Tokyo government still maintains its rigid stance,” she said. “However, at least it is now possible for us to have a normal and healthy talk with the Tokyo government.”