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Japan eyes slashing U.S. military living support, base workersí salaries

Date Posted: 2007-10-27

Japan, plagued by massive budget woes, is proposing a Y10 billion reduction in funds used to finance American military support, local nationalsí salaries, and paying for US base utilities.

The proposal will be formally pitched to US Defense Secretary Robert Gates next month when he visits Japan to meet with Shigeru Ishiba, Japanís Minister of Self Defense. Okinawa Prefecture says this yearís budget is •217.3 billion, with labor costs a significant portion of the total.

Japanese working for U.S. forces make more money than many in the private sector, and the government wants to trim those costs and close the gap. The Ministry of Self Defense has already discussed the plan with the Okinawa Garrison Workers Union, revealing a proposal to cut salaries 10%.

Under terms of the SACO agreement, U.S. forces pay nothing toward the labor and utility costs. American leaders have an opposing view; reports are circulating the U.S. wants Japan to increase the utility payments, and not reduce them.

Japanís budget circumstances, coupled with political maneuvering in Tokyo, threaten renewal of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force law permitting refueling of allied and American ships in the Indian Ocean.

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