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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — An unprecedented joint project between the United States and Japan to move 8,000 Marines to Guam from Okinawa is making steady headway, Japanese officials said.

As part of realigning U.S. forces in Japan, the United States and Japan agreed in May to move 8,000 Marines and their families stationed in Okinawa to Guam by 2014, with Japan paying $6.09 billion of the estimated $10.27 billion in moving costs.

A Japanese Ministry of Defense spokesman said Wednesday that initial money for the project will appear in the budget for the next fiscal year, which runs from this April to March 2008.

Each year, the Ministry will request the money needed in the budget to accomplish the realignment, the spokesman said.

Expenses Japan agreed to pay include a headquarters building, barracks, schools, family housing and base infrastructure such as electricity, water supply and sewage systems.

The plan is making steady headway, the spokesman said.

“Previously, it has been only in a talking stage but from next fiscal year on,” he said, “it will be (in) an execution stage.”

A Japanese legislative process to help fund family housing and infrastructure for Marines on Guam also has been set in motion, said Osamu Ashitomi, a Japanese House of Representatives member from Okinawa.

Ashitomi said the Liberal Democratic Party, Japan’s ruling party, Tuesday endorsed a bill to implement the realignment plan. The legislation would enable a government-run financial institution to release loans to fund family housing and infrastructure construction on Guam.

The legislation also would offer subsidies to Japanese communities that accept new U.S. military facilities and flight training, he said.

The bill is expected to be submitted to the Diet next week and enacted by May, he said.


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