Japanese official sets timetable on Marines move
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — More than half of the Marines stationed on Okinawa will move to Guam by 2012, a Japan Defense Agency official announced Thursday.
According to the agency’s press office, necessary construction on Guam should be complete in time for the III Marine Expeditionary Force’s headquarters element to move there within six years. The move includes some 8,000 Marines and their dependents.
Japanese news reports have stated that a new facility for Marine Corps air operations on Okinawa will be built on Camp Schwab by 2014. However, the agency spokeswoman said no date had been set to complete that project.
A broad agreement reached in October to realign U.S. troops in Japan calls for closing Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, in the middle of urban Ginowan, once the new airport is built in rural northeast Okinawa.
The senior Japanese defense official, who asked not to be named, said the United States is expected to complete a master plan for the Guam move by December and that an environmental assessment of property the U.S. government owns in northern Guam already is taking place.
He said the Defense Agency plans to start construction in latter fiscal 2007, aiming to complete the project by 2012.
“This is a schedule in line with a request from U.S. side,” the official said. On Monday, Japan time, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Japan Defense Agency Secretary General Fukushiro Nukaga agreed that Japan will cover about $6.09 billion of the estimated $10.7 billion cost of the move.
The Japanese official said the Japanese contribution to the project includes $2.8 billion in grants, $1.5 billion in investments and $1.79 billion in loans. The Japan Defense Agency will create “special purpose, public-private” companies to handle the loans and investments, officials have said.
One entity will use the investments from the government and private sources to build housing, he said. Japan expects to recoup the investment principal over 50 years in rent payments.
Construction of III MEF headquarters, barracks and schools is estimated to cost about $2.8 billion. Family housing is estimated to cost $2.55 billion and construction of utilities on the base is expected to cost some $740 million, the defense official told reporters.
The United States is to provide $3.18 billion for helicopter landing pads, facilities for communications and training, a supply depot and petroleum and munitions storage. An additional $1 million is to be spent on highway construction.