Sunday, November 08, 2009

U.S. Senate cuts fund for marines' Guam move

U.S. Senate cuts fund for marines' Guam move

Satoshi Ogawa / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent

WASHINGTON--The U.S. Senate has voted to slash 211 million dollars that the administration of President Barack Obama sought to fund the planned relocation of 8,000 marines from Okinawa Prefecture to Guam, it was learned Thursday.

The Senate action to cut about 70 percent of the envisaged 300 million dollars came in the process of deliberating fiscal 2010 budget bills relating to the construction of the new U.S. military installations.

Earlier when approving the White House-submitted National Defense Authorization Bill in late October, the U.S. Congress was in favor of the 300 million dollars budgetary appropriations for the transfer plans of the marines.

In the wake of the Senate vote for the major cutbacks on the expenditure for moving the marines from Okinawa Prefecture to Guam, the White House sent a letter Thursday to the Senate, saying a budget cut of this scale could have "harmful effects" on the Japan-U.S. agreement in February 2009 on the relocation of the marines.

The budgetary issue involving the planned move of the marines was one of the major points U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates referred to in talks with his Japanese counterpart, Toshimi Kitazawa, when Gates visited Japan in October.

Gates consulted with Kitazawa on relocating the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station from Ginowan, southern Okinawa Prefecture, to Camp Schwab in Nago in the northeastern part of the prefecture. Gates in the talks was quoted as warning that the U.S. Congress would act to negate budget expenses for plans to move the marines from the prefecture to Guam should the planned relocation of Futenma be hampered.

It is possible that military installation-related budget bills could be modified through the Senate's consultations with the House of Representatives.

A major factor behind the Senate's action this time is the fact that the U.S. Congress is displeased with the indecisiveness of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's administration regarding the relocation of Futenma Air Station, and has become wary of approving budgetary appropriations for the relocation of marines to Guam. Washington has said settling the Futenma issue should be a prerequisite for moving the marines from Okinawa Prefecture to the island in the western Pacific.


Kanagawa gov. backs base deal

WASHINGTON (Kyodo)--Kanagawa Gov. Shigefumi Matsuzawa threw his support Thursday behind an existing deal between Japan and the United States that would relocate a U.S. airfield within Okinawa Prefecture.

Matsuzawa signaled the stance at a symposium in Washington, saying the current plan to relocate the U.S. Marines Corps' Futenma Air Station to Nago from downtown Ginowan by 2014 is the best possible one.

"If the Futenma relocation issue becomes complicated and protracted further, the whole package of plans to realign U.S. forces in Japan will be delayed," he said.

(Nov. 7, 2009)

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