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Tokyo may sweeten deal for Nago City

Date Posted: 2006-05-27

Nago City may see some extra money in its bank accounts in exchange for its hosting the new airfield at Camp Schwab.

The central government is eying a deal to provide special grants to Nago City and Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture to compensate for their increased roles in the U.S. military realignment. A new two-runway airfield to replace Futenma in Ginowan City is to be built on Camp Schwab, near Henoko District of Nago City.

Legislation is set to go before the Diet, before it adjourns June 18th, creating a ten-year subsidy setup that would provide grants to the two cities. The legislation features a two-prong approach increasing grants over the ten years, timed to coincide with the new construction and troop movements. The second element would provide grants and special preferences for the city to build roads, airport, ports and other infrastructure. The requests would have to be approved by the prime minister and ministers of various government agencies.

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation will figure actively in the realignment program, which includes moving 8,000 Marines off Okinawa to Guam. The bill would cover 59% of the estimated $10.27 billion to relocate the marines. Japanís share would be $6.09 billion. The JBIC is a government supported bank offering foreign aid loans and various overseas projects.

In addition to the $6.9 billion, Tokyo has agreed to spend $2.8 billion in connection with the realignment. With 8,000 Marines going to Guam, another 10,000 will remain on Okinawa.

Iwakuni will figure prominently in the realignment as well, absorbing an aircraft carrier air wing being moved from Atsugi in Kanagawa Prefecture. Local residents in Atsugi have complained successfully about the noise generated by the fighter jets.

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