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Taxes won’t go up to pay Japan’s $26 billion troop moves cost

Date Posted: 2006-05-13

Japan will pay more than $18 billion to support relocating US troops to Guam and around Japan, but it won’t cost taxpayers more.

The Japanese Defense Agency chief reassured the public Sunday that the government will absorb the costs for realignments both in Japan and elsewhere in the Pacific. Fukushiro Nukaga says no tax increase is planned to offset Japan’s share of the costs for shifting military bases and personnel.

Nukaga bluntly ruled out any emergency tax hike, saying “it’s not being considered at this point.”
He says costs for military relocations within Japan will cost the Japanese taxpayer “less than 2~3 trillion yen”. “The security of Japan is not only a Defense Agency responsibility,” he told national television network NHK, “but something the whole government is responsible for dealing with.”

The U.S. and Japan reached an agreement May 1st to radically realign bases and troop populations in the country. Okinawa, which bears much of the military basing burden, will see 8,000 Marines and 9,000 family members leave the island for Guam within the next eight years. Japan has agreed to pick up 59% of the costs for the Guam move, which total $10.27 billion.

Nukaga says the costs for relocating troops within Japan are not included in the $6 billion figure. He also noted Japan’s portion of the relocation costs will dip in the future, but didn’t provide details.

Richard Lawless, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense for Asia and Pacific Affairs, says Japan’s $26 billion cost assessment is an estimate, and not a line item calculation. The government has focused on the $10.27 billion involved with moving Marines from Okinawa, while downplaying the actual costs. Lawless says the cost figures will be developed and finalized in coming months.
Four U.S. bases on Okinawa will close in 2014, including the controversial Futenma Marine Corps Air Station. Others shutting down are Naha Military Port, Camp Kinser in Urasoe and Camp Lester in Chatan. A portion of Camp Foster in Ginowan will also revert back to Japanese control.

Nukaga took issue with critics who argue Japan’s increased military interaction with the U.S. could lead to a higher risk of the country being drawn into military conflict. Nukaga says “It is the Japan-U.S. alliance which has kept the peace here for the past 60 years.

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