Japan yet to finalize funding plans for relocation
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — While Guam plans for the move of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa, the Japanese government is still considering how it will come up with the money to make it happen.
Under the status of forces agreement and the bilateral security treaty, Japan is obliged to cover the bulk of the cost of U.S. bases in the country. Even though the agreements don’t apply to bases outside Japan, the Japanese government has agreed to cover part of the cost as a means to reduce Okinawa’s burden of hosting 75 percent of the land used by U.S. bases in the country.
But Japan is planning to fund other realignment moves first. A budgetary request the Defense Agency submitted last month for the next Japanese fiscal year (April 2007 through March 2008) includes open-amount categories connected with moving Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Camp Schwab in northern Okinawa, transferring carrier-based aircraft from Naval Air Facility Atsugi to MCAS Iwakuni and moving flight training at Kadena Air Base to Japan Self-Defense Force bases on the mainland.
However, the budget request, listed under “Measures to Reduce the Burden of Local Communities,” does not include any specific amount. It also does not mention moving Marines to Guam.
“The budgetary request is for 2007 fiscal year, only for the next one year,” said a spokesman for the agency’s public relations office. “Also, the plan for moving Marines to Guam is yet to be finalized in many details before we can request the estimated cost in the budget.”
In an agreement signed May 1, Japan promised to pay $6.09 billion of the estimated $10.27 billion cost to move the Marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam. Of that sum, $2.8 billion would be in direct cash contributions to jump start the move, “recognizing the strong desire of Okinawa residents that such force relocation be realized rapidly,” according to the “Roadmap for Realignment Implementation.”
The rest of Japan’s contribution includes $1.5 billion for special investments and $1.79 billion in long-term loans. Japan Defense Agency Chief Fukushiro Nukaga has stated that Japan would recoup the investments and loans.
At the time the deal was made, during negotiations in Washington in April, a Japan Self-Defense Force spokesman said the outright grants would go to build the III Marine Expeditionary Force headquarters, other military-related construction and schools on Guam. The investments would be made to a yet-to-be-named entity for housing construction.
The loans would go toward funding utilities, he said. But funding details have yet to be hammered out, according to Japanese officials.