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TOKYO — U.S. and Japanese leaders have crafted their latest payment agreement, under which Japan will pay $1.2 billion a year in support of U.S. Forces in Japan for the next two years — $200 million more than during each of the past two years, the U.S. Embassy announced Monday.

The money covers many of the costs of stationing U.S. forces in Japan, including about $250 million toward base utility costs, or about 85 percent of the total utility bill, and the salaries and labor costs of more than 23,000 Japanese employees on U.S. bases. It also covers construction projects.

Monday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso signed the 2006 Special Measures Agreement, a payment agreement renegotiated periodically since it began in 1991.

The previous agreement, in 2004, required Japan to pay nearly $1 billion per year.

“The U.S.-Japanese alliance is strong and remains a foundation of Asia’s secure peace,” Zoellick stated in an embassy release. “America’s commitment to defend Japan helped secure peace and stability in the Far East in the years after the Second World War and facilitated the rise of a peaceful and democratic Japan. I am pleased to sign this agreement today, which extends Japanese support for American forces that help protect Japan and keep the peace in the region.”

Zoellick is visiting Japan and later China as part of a tour of Asia.

He earlier stopped in Hawaii to meet with Pacific Command leaders there.

The agreement stipulates that Japan will pay $1.2 billion a year for the next two years.

In October, Japan and the U.S. agreed to an interim plan to reposition forces in Japan and move several thousand to Guam; to replace the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier at Yokosuka Naval Base with the USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered ship; and to move the Marine Corps Air Station at Futenma to a less-populated part of Okinawa.


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