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Government eyes trimming 2010 base worker salaries

Date Posted: 2009-12-03

Nothing’s final yet, but the central government is strongly weighing a plan to slash salaries to Japanese workers on U.S. military installations, saying the current system is too expensive and making those workers too highly paid.

The Japanese Government Revitalization Unit conference committee has finished its evaluations, taking a look at salaries for Japanese workers on the military bases as part of its study of ways to eliminate wasteful spending in the 2010 budget. The Japanese government funds much of the payroll for Japanese base workers, including the 9,000 base workers here in Okinawa.

The current 2010 budget allocation for paying Japanese base worker salaries is ¥123.3 billion, but that number is under fire and is being closely scrutinized. Officials say they’re taking a hard look at the numbers, looking for ways to knock the totals down. The goal, officials say, is to reduce the wage levels of base workers to the same level as Okinawans working off base. Okinawan salaries are currently defined as being about 25-30% lower than the nationwide average.

The central government is also planning to take the knife to the Self Defense Force budget. It has already identified ¥7.2 billion in cuts, and is planning another ¥8.9 billion in equipment and uniform cuts. The whole set of budget cut recommendations will go to the Cabinet for discussion in coming weeks.

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