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Japan marks エ37 billion for Guam infrastructure

Date Posted: 2011-01-14

Japan's taken a big step forward in plans for moving 8,600 Marines from Okinawa to Guam within the next half-dozen years, earmarking エ37 billion ($420 million) to upgrade the deteriorating utilities infrastructure in Guam.

The Marines' move is part of the larger overall military realignment in Japan; Futenma Marine Corps Air Station moves to Henoko district of Nago City in northern Okinawa, and then Marines begin moving to Guam while others move from central Okinawa north from bases like Camp Kinser and Futenma. The エ37 billion is something less than half the $740 million Japan has committed to rebuilding the antiquated water, sewage and power networks in Guam.

The money will be included in Japan's new fiscal year budget, and will be used for improvements to water utilities, waste water systems and upgrades to Guam Power Authority facilities. The funds must be approved by Prime Minister Naoto Kan, but officials say that's a foregone conclusion; that Kan will sign the bill before year's end. Rebuilding the Guam utilities infrastructure is essential to moving Marines to the island by 2014. Even without the additional Marines, Guam's infrastructure is not capable of providing dependable support for Guamanians and the U.S. bases already on the island.

The $740 million is part of a $6 billion overall Japan commitment to building facilities in Guam for moving the Marines. What isn't immediately clear is whether the $420 million being approved now will be a loan to Guam, or an outright grant.

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