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Government reassesses troop realignment costs

Date Posted: 2006-06-02

The price tag is hefty, but little more than half what Japanese officials had only weeks ago predicted for realigning US troops and bases in the country.

A new estimate by Defense Agency officials fixes the cost at Y1,1 trillion, down from the Y2 trillion forecast when an historic agreement was reached little more than a month ago between Japan and the United States. The realignment costs will be spread across eight to 10 Japanese budget years.

The revised figure does not include the ¥700 billion required as Japan’s part of the deal to move 8,000 U.S. Marines off Okinawa to Guam. Included in the sticker price is the ¥300 billion cost for constructing a new replacement airfield near Nago City to replace the controversial Futenma Marine Corps Air Station now in Ginowan City.

The Defense Agency Director is taking his plans before the Japanese Cabinet this week after talks with the Chief Cabinet Secretary, Shinzo Abe. Director General Fukushiro Nukaga says the plan will allow reductions to the burden Okinawa bears in supporting U.S. Forces in the country, while at the same time beefing up the security alliance in effect between the U.S. and Japan. The plan was announced May 1st by the two countries after meetings in Washington.

Yuriko Koike, the State Minister for Okinawa Affairs, says she wants the government to “come up with clear policies that stipulate local development and economic enhancement programs for Okinawa.”

Koike expressed concern about the lack of support for the new plan by both Nago City and Okinawa Prefecture officials.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, in Okinawa last week for a two-day Pacific Leaders Summit, has directed his ministers to get together with local Okinawa officials and discuss the issues, and get them resolved.

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