U.S. and Japan agree on base realignment costs
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japan and the United States reached a deal in Washington early Monday, Japan time, on funding the move of some 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.
The breakthrough deal, reached after a three-hour meeting between Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Japan Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga, has Japan paying roughly 60 percent of the estimated $10.27 billion cost. The deal removes the last major obstacle to hammering out details for implementing a broad plan to realign U.S. troops in Japan.
The bilateral plan was announced last October, but the two sides missed an end-of-March deadline for agreeing on the details after Tokyo balked at Washington’s request for Japan to pay 75 percent of the cost of moving the Marines.
After Sunday’s meeting, Nukaga told reporters that Japan has agreed to contribute a total of $6.1 billion to the move. The cost was broken down to $2.8 billion in direct funds and $3.3 billion in loans and investments.
“Japan will support the moving costs, limiting only to facilities immediately necessary along with moving Marines from Okinawa to Guam,” Nukaga said, according to a Defense Agency transcript. “For instance, it would cover the Marine Corps headquarters building, training facilities, family housing, barracks, schools … as well as off-base infrastructure, such as the water and sewerage systems.”
A U.S. official on Okinawa familiar with the negotiations confirmed the talks had yielded an agreement.
“The secretary and Minister Nukaga held extensive discussions regarding this issue and reached an agreement on the cost sharing associated with the development of facilities on Guam in regard to the relocation of about 8,000 Marines,” said the official, who agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity.
Rumsfeld described the discussions as “excellent” and said the U.S. and Japan “have come to an understanding that we both feel is in the best interest of our two countries,” the official said.
He said working-level meetings would continue in Washington this week to work on the implementation plan for all the realignment issues.
“This was one of the major roadblocks,” he said of the cost-sharing issue. “But we still have other discussions going on.” He could not confirm when the so-called “2-plus-2” meeting between the defense and state department heads of the two countries would take place.
In Tokyo on Monday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said the agreement was made to ensure a quick transfer of troops from Okinawa.
“One big goal of the realignment is to reduce the burden of people of Okinawa,” Abe told reporters. “To carry this out as quickly as possible, we decided that making this financial contribution was unavoidable in order to speed up the process.”