Don't use tax money to host U.S. military bases in Japan! -- Akahata editorial, September 7

The Defense Agency has decided to request 240.2 billion yen for the next fiscal year as a "sympathy budget" for the U.S. forces. The amount is 3.8 billion yen less than that in FY2004, yet still enormous. Expenditures for small- and medium-sized businesses, a cornerstone of Japan's economy, are only about 170 billion yen. Thus, an extraordinary amount of tax money is requested for the U.S. forces. The total cost for the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan is far more than 600 billion yen, including the "sympathy budget". It is unacceptable that the Japanese government pays such a huge amount of money for the U.S. forces while drastically cutting funding for people's social welfare, education, and other services.

'Sympathy budget' helps realize realignment and reinforcement of the U.S. forces

The "sympathy budget" was introduced in the FY1978 budget for Japan to pay for items that the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) requires the U.S. forces to pay for. In 1987, when Japan found it difficult to pay more under the SOFA provisions, it concluded another special agreement to keep funding for the stationing of the U.S. forces in Japan. Japan now provides money for everything except the salaries for U.S. personnel, paying for housing, sports facilities, schools, and other living-related facilities for U.S. personnel and for all the costs of U.S. military activities, from combat facilities to training expenses in Japan. The U.S. government regards Japan as "the most generous provider of" host nation support for U.S. forces. Joseph Nye, then assistant secretary of defense, said in a Tokyo seminar on September 4 in 1995 that it is cheaper to have U.S. troops stationed in Japan than in the United States. The U.S. government, thus, cites Japan's "sympathy budget" as one of the reasons for the U.S. forces to stay in Japan. The huge amount of "sympathy budget" guarantees that the U.S. forces will stay in Japan for a long time and in turn causes increasing anxieties among the public concerning accidents such as U.S. aircraft crashes in residential areas, noise created by U.S. military aircraft, and crimes committed by U.S. personnel.

The problem is that in the U.S. Bush administration's ongoing realignment of the U.S. forces on a global scale, Japan's "sympathy budget" contributes to keeping the U.S. forces stationed in Japan. The Bush administration's realignment of the U.S. forces abroad is designed to set up a military posture that enables the United States to invoke its preemptive attack strategy against any country it dislikes and to send U.S. troops from the continental U.S. and forward bases deployed abroad to destroy that country. The realignment of the U.S. bases in Japan is certainly aimed at enhancing the mobility of forces and increasing operational capabilities for the U.S. forces to use them as footholds for global interventions.

U.S. President George W. Bush in his speech at a war veterans meeting on August 16 announced that the United States will withdraw 60,000-70,000 soldiers and 100,000 family members and civilian employees from U.S. bases in Europe and Asia in the next 10 years.

The president said that the realignment will reduce the stress on U.S. troops and military families and will save U.S. taxpayers' money.

The Japanese people are afflicted by the U.S. forces stationed in Japan and under constant stress caused by U.S. military bases. Japanese taxpayers are forced to shoulder an extra burden for the "sympathy budget" for the U.S. forces in Japan, money that they need not pay at all. In promoting its self-interests, the United States tries to keep their troops stationed in Japan to reduce financial burdens on U.S. taxpayers at the expense of the Japanese people.

No tax for U.S. troops

As was clearly evidenced by the crash of a CH53 transport helicopter from the U.S. Marine corps Futenma Air Station in a densely populated area near the base, U.S. military bases are a source of terror against the lives and properties of the Japanese people.

The realignment would make the U.S. bases in Japan more globally incorporated as war outposts than ever before, which has nothing to do with the defense of Japan. Japanese people's taxes must not be used to maintain the U.S. bases in Japan. (end)

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