Defense Ministry to create new subsidies for municipalities hosting U.S. military drills
The Defense Ministry is to create fresh regional development subsidies for municipalities that allow the U.S. military to conduct combat drills in their jurisdictions.
The new support will follow the March 2017 expiration of subsidies paid to local governments for U.S. military realignment. About 3.6 billion yen has been set aside for related expenses in the government draft budget for fiscal 2017.
The Japanese and U.S. governments agreed in 2006 to move combat drills from U.S. military bases in Kadena (Okinawa Prefecture), Misawa (Aomori Prefecture) and Iwakuni (Yamaguchi Prefecture) to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF)'s six bases in Chitose (Hokkaido), Misawa and Hyakuri (Ibaraki Prefecture), Komatsu (Ishikawa Prefecture), Tsuiki (Fukuoka Prefecture) and Nyutabaru (Miyazaki Prefecture) to reduce their impact on local residents.
Subsidies for U.S. military realignment have been provided since 2007 to 20 municipalities around the JASDF bases to which the combat exercises were moved under the special measures law on promoting the realignment of the U.S. military in Japan.
As the special measures law is temporary legislation, the realignment subsidies will terminate at the end of fiscal 2016. Because many projects, including the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan to the Henoko district of Nago in Okinawa Prefecture, have not been completed, the Defense Ministry is to submit a bill to extend the special measures law for 10 years to the ordinary session of the Diet due to open later this month.
However, the ministry plans to exclude combat drills from the revised special measures law. The new subsidies will be alternative measures to the special measures law provisions, and will be used to improve the living environment for local residents and promote regional economies.