Wednesday, January 13, 2010

$50M from Japan funds new contract

$50M from Japan funds new contract

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno • Pacific Daily News • January 13, 2010

While some of Japan's elected officials want to revisit details of their government's agreement with the United States to relocate some of the Marines on Okinawa to Guam, the process to award some of the contracts related to the move is under way.

The award of $50 million in contracts involving Japan's initial share of the cost to move Marines to Guam was announced yesterday by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific, which is based in Honolulu.

The command announced the $50 million architect-engineer services contract award on Jan. 11 to AHL Setiadi Gushiken Joint Venture LLC of Honolulu.

"The contract is for the preparation of project engineering documentation, preliminary and final plans and specifications, request for proposals contract documents, technical reports, construction cost estimates and consultation, and geotechnical investigations and studies for Navy and Marine Corps projects" related to the military buildup on Guam, according to NAVFAC Pacific.

It's the first contract awarded using Japanese government funds for the relocation of Marines to Guam, said NAVFAC Pacific Vice Commander Capt. Paul Fuligni.

Under the contract, two design task orders for Naval projects in Guam were issued:

# $1.7 million for a waterfront headquarters building; and

# $1.6 million for a fire station.

Japan and the United States have agreed to share the $10.27 billion cost to relocate about 8,000 Marines and their 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam and free up land in Okinawa for Japanese civilian use.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Japanese counterpart took the agreement another step forward by signing, in February 2009, a pact that says Japan will help pay for the Marines' relocation to Guam with a total of $6.09 billion.

Of that amount, $2.8 billion of Japan's share will be in direct cash contributions for facilities and infrastructure for the Marines' new Guam base, according to the agreement.

But since the signing, some of the newly elected, more liberal leaders in Japan have called for not just a reduction of U.S. Marines and other American troops in Okinawa, but a complete pullout of the U.S. military there.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in a press conference last year that any alteration of the agreement on the Japan side will derail the process to lessen U.S. troop presence in Japan and move some of the troops to Guam.

The United States had agreed to relocate the Marine Corps air base at Futenma, which sits in the middle of an Okinawan city, to a location within Okinawa but farther from the city hub.

Several members of the U.S. House of Representatives have weighed in on the issue by writing a letter Jan. 7 to Japan Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

"The letter sent to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama expresses Congress' continued support of the ... agreement and for the strategic value of the realignment of military forces in Japan and the Western Pacific," Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo said.

"Prime Minister Hatoyama has voiced concerns regarding the proposed plans for the replacement of Futenma Marine Air Base in Okinawa, and we believe that his concerns can be addressed within the existing framework of the Guam International Agreement," according to Bordallo. "The Futenma replacement facility issue has the potential to unravel the agreement and to reverse the progress that has been achieved in realigning forces in Japan."

Bordallo was joined in the letter by: Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee; Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee; Rep. Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; and Delegate Eni Faleomavaega, chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment.

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