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Legislator wants U.S. to settle a decades-old base worker issue

Date Posted: 2006-03-17

Military base workers who lost their jobs following Okinawa’s reversion to Japan in 1972 fought in the courts for nearly two decades to get compensation.

Many are still waiting for more than Y7,600,000 in claims to be settled. The U.S. was responsible, and until 1990 tackled them in Japanese courts. After that, the Reversion Agreement laid responsibility at the hands of Japan.

A Socialist Party legislator from Okinawa, Kantoku Teruya, picked up on the long running battle during a House of Representatives meeting and is now asking the Ministry of Defense for answers.

The U.S. position says the money owed is potentially still in litigation, “because Japan didn’t take us to the Upper Court anymore, we didn’t think it necessary to make the payments.” The Defense Ministry says “there are some payments left, and American didn’t pay.” That official says “We are still asking America to pay”, but Teruya sees it somewhat differently.

He charges to Japanese government with “being too lazy to ask America for the money, or to push more strongly for repayment. Japan was responsible for settling the claims after 1991, in accordance with the agreement. Teruya says Japan’s government should have kept after the Americans to get the money for its former base workers.

“It’s our tax money,” says Teruya. “We don’t want to waste our tax money.”

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