Japanese bureaucrat advises U.S. officials that they should not “compromise” on the Futenma relocation plan

Japanese bureaucrat advises U.S. officials that they should not “compromise” on the Futenma relocation plan

WikiLeaks discloses confidential US Embassy cables from Tokyo about the negotiations between the United States and Japanese governments on the Futenma issue.

WikiLeaks discloses U.S. official telegrams
May 5, 2011. Ryukyu Shimpo

According to U.S. official telegrams disclosed by WikiLeaks, while the DPJ administration was seeking the relocation outside of Okinawa Prefecture of the U.S. Marine Corps now based at Futenma, a staff member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan suggested to United States government officials that they should not compromise on the Futenma relocation plan. The cable indicates that both governments inflated the numbers involved in U.S. Marine Forces Transfer Plan from Okinawa to Guam. The Roadmap for Realignment Implementation agreed to by both governments in the spring of 2006 states that 8000 Marine Corps personnel and 9000 dependents would move to Guam, but leaked telegrams indicate that these numbers were inflated to optimize their political value.

To add to this, in order to make Japan’s share of the financial burden appear smaller, the United States included the cost of an unnecessary project in the calculation of the relocation expenses to Guam. The Japanese government accepted these figures in 2008.
The cables state that the total cost of relocation was inflated by including $1 billion for road construction, which meant that Japan’s share of the expense burden decreased from two-thirds of the total cost of $9.2 billion, to just under 60% of the inflated total.

The cables also include an example of a Japanese career bureaucrat recommending to United States officials that they stay on course with the Roadmap for Futenma relocation after the regime change to the Democratic Party of Japan. At an unofficial lunch meeting October 12, 2009, Director General of Bureau of Defense Policy Shigenobu Takamizawa is reported as warning the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt M. Campbell “against premature demonstration of flexibility in adjusting the realignment package.” The cables also reported that a counselor in charge of political affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan made the basically the same remark to his counterpart of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. The cables therefore indicate that career bureaucrats moved to prevent the Hatoyama administration from seeking the relocation of the facilities at Futenma outside of Okinawa.

The Japanese Government explains that the number of U.S. Marines in Okinawa is set at 18000, leaving about 10000 after relocation to Guam, but the cables indicate that the number of Marines to be moved to Guam would fall short of 8000 and that 9000 was the expected absolute maximum number of dependents.

In 2006 the Marine Corps assigned personnel level in Okinawa was 13000, so the actual number of marines to move to Guam would have been much lower than 8000.

On December 21, 2009, directly after Prime Minister Hatoyama delayed his decision on the alternative location for the facilities at Futenma, Vice Minister Mitoji Yabunaka commented that, “Prime Minister Hatoyama confirmed that if the review of the Futenma Relocation Facility (FRF) alternatives to Henoko did not produce viable proposals, he would go back to the 2006 FRF agreement.”
The cable suggests that at an early stage Hatoyama was considering the Futenma facilities coming back to Henoko.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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