$6B Japan financing not yet final
By Gerardo R. Partido
Variety News Staff
May 29, 2007
THE $6 billion approved by Japanese lawmakers to help fund the relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam is not yet final, the Consulate General of Japan in Guam announced.
In a letter, Consul General Tamio Tomino said the $6 billion that will be shouldered by the Japanese government under its agreement with the U.S. was not outlined in the bill approved last week by Japan's upper house of parliament.
"For the time being, however, this is the figure that the governments of Japan and the U.S. are looking at as Japan's share of the estimated costs for the relocation of the U.S. Marines," Tomino said.
He added that the actual timeline for the Japan Diet to take up this matter for discussion has not yet been decided "and will probably not be" until the U.S. side completes the Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, process and other preparatory work.
So far, the Navy is far from completing a draft EIS as it only recently finished polling residents' feedback about the planned relocation of the Marines.
The input from Guam and CNMI residents will still be forwarded to Navy planners as they prepare to draft an EIS, which will analyze the impact of the Marines' relocation on the community and culture of Guam and the CNMI.
This means that further delay could still occur before the actual extent of Japan's financing could be known.
Guam Contractors Association executive director James Martinez, in an interview with Variety, said his group's members are hungry for more details in the aftermath of the Japanese parliament's approval of the Marine relocation financing.
"Of course, we're happy that the Japanese lawmakers approved the bill. But at this point, we still need to see the details. As far as we are concerned, there is still nothing concrete to go on from which we can base our plans," Martinez said.
In his letter, Tomino also dispelled initial reports that the U.S. would get the primary contracts for the construction projects needed to accommodate the Marines.
He confirmed that the state-run Japan Bank for International Cooperation has been designated as the bank that will give loans to contractors.
But Tomino said details concerning the contractors and the mode of investment and finance work of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation have yet to be finalized.
"The discussions in this regard between Japan and the U.S. are an ongoing process," the Japanese consul general said.
This leaves open the possibility that the bulk of the contracting work may still end up with Japanese companies as U.S. contractors have feared.
In Japan, opposition continues against the approval of the $6 billion financing, which many Japanese consider too high and unfair.
The approval of the $6 billion financing will mark the first time a Japanese government has agreed to share the costs of building and improving facilities at a U.S. base overseas and this has enraged Japanese nationalists.
"Certainly, it is unusual for a government to finance the building of another country's military facilities in a territory other than its own," the influential Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun said in an editorial.