122 billion yen paid by Japan for the relocation of U.S. forces to Guam but its use is still up in the air

October 4, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

Despite the Japanese government having paid about 122 billion yen since 2009 as their share of the burden of the cost of relocating the United States Marines Corps in Okinawa to Guam, the use of this money is still up in the air. This was revealed by a reporter of the Ryukyu Shimpo in an interview at the Ministry of Defense on October 3. Fiscal 2011’s allocation of 51.9 billion yen has not yet been transferred to the United States, but from the previous two fiscal years of 2009 and 2010, about 75 billion yen, over 90% of the 81.4 billion yen already paid by Japan to the United States, still sits unused.
Backlogged budgets are thought to be the cause of delays on the environmental impact assessment in Guam and the fact that the relocation burden on the U.S. side has been cut by U.S. Senate leaving actual relocation nowhere in sight.

The Ministry of Defense has requested that 51.9 billion yen by allocated from the fiscal 2012 budget for relocation of the Marines to Guam, the same amount as the 2011 year, but it is possible that this may not be permitted because the circumstances surrounding the relocation to Guam do not look as though they will change in future.

The retention of such a large amount of public funds clearly indicates that the U.S. military realignment agreed upon in 2006 by the United States and Japan to enhance the efficiency of U.S. military operations and to reduce the burden on Okinawa has again returned to a stalemate.
In 2006, the governments of the two countries agreed on the respective apportionment of expenses for the relocation of the Okinawa Marine Corps to Guam. The Japanese government is spending $2.8 billion in the form of direct expenses or government pump priming for facility maintenance such as headquarters buildings and in addition to this, it is providing financing to the United States to the tune of 32.9 billion dollars for the likes of water and sewage infrastructure, electric power and family housing.

The Japanese government paid 34.6 billion yen to the United States in fiscal 2009 and 46.8 billion yen in fiscal 2010, and except for some expenditure on the likes of tendering for facilities design, most of the budget remains untouched. This July, the U.S. Senate removed from the fiscal 2012 U.S. government budget the full amount of $150 million (about 12 billion yen) for the Guam relocation, which is linked with the Futenma relocation, because the realization of the plan is surrounded in uncertainty.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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