Thursday, November 26, 2009

Diet Considers Allocation For Okinawa-Guam Transfer

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Says Coalition Government May Make 'Temporary Allocation'

Japan's Parliament Still Waiting On Prime Minister To Make Up His Mind On Where To Put U.S. Marines

Written by Jeff Marchesseault, Guam News Factor Staff Writer
Thursday, 26 November 2009 09:56

GUAM - Japan's parliament is currently pondering allocation, now that Japan's Defense Ministry has requested the yen equivalent of $1 billion in FY2010 dollars to help cover the cost of (1) reclaiming land in Nago, Okinawa for a new base there and (2) transferring thousands of U.S. Marines to Guam.

It's a sign that the disagreement between Japan's new coalition government and the Obama Administration on where to relocate the Marines may soon get traction and help ensure the timely transfer of as many as 8,600 American troops and their 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam.

The allocation's serious consideration is off to a running start, as Japan's fiscal year starts in April. But there are no guarantees of funding for the current plan, since Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has yet to offer an alternative to a 2006 bilateral accord to move the functions of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to Nago. The accord faces stiff opposition from coalition partners and Okinawans, including pacifists, environmentalists, and those who just plain oppose any new U.S. military footprints across an Okinawa that already hosts the vast majority of American forces in Japan.

According to an Kyodo News service story appearing in today's edition of The Japan Times:

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano said Wednesday the government will decide whether to allocate funds for the replacement facility, which, under the bilateral accord, would be built in Nago, Okinawa, after deliberating the issue at a ministerial committee consisting of the leaders of the three coalition parties.

"The allocation in the budget for the next fiscal year will be decided after policies are set at the ministerial committee on basic policy among the three parties," Hirano said at a news conference.

Hirano left open the possibility that the government may do the allocation on a temporary basis, given that Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has yet to make a final decision on the relocation.

While the Diet mulls funding for the plan spelled out in the original accord, leaders and constituents on Guam are reviewing an 8,000-page Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the military's installation expansion here -- a $15 billion project designed, in part, to reduce the civilian burden of hosting American armed forces in Okinawa.

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