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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 October 31 - November 6  > Defense Ministry excludes municipalities opposing U.S. military realignment plan from its list of municipalities to be granted subsidies
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2007 October 31 - November 6 [US FORCES]

Defense Ministry excludes municipalities opposing U.S. military realignment plan from its list of municipalities to be granted subsidies

November 2, 2007
The Defense Ministry on October 31 made public a list of 33 municipalities hosting military bases that will receive subsidies in accordance with the extent of cooperation they offer in implementing the plan of realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.

The ministry excluded from the list the municipalities that have expressed opposition to the realignment plan, including Zama City (Kanagawa Pref.), Iwakuni City (Yamaguchi Pref.), and Nago City (Okinawa Pref.).

With the subsidies, the government is attempting to force municipalities that will be impacted by the realignment to yield to the government. In fact, some municipalities have already changed their position to accept the realignment plan.

Moriya Takemasa, the scandal-ridden former vice defense minister, took the lead in drawing up this scheme.

Although accepting the construction of a U.S. Marine Corps base, Nago City is opposed to the government plan and demands that the new base be shifted further offshore.

The government has denied Iwakuni City, which hosts the U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station, subsidies for the U.S. realignment because of its opposition to the relocation of a carrier-borne aircraft unit. The government also cut the subsidy for the construction of the city office that was approved even before the realignment plan was devised.

Zama City hosts the U.S. Army Camp Zama where the U.S. Army Corps Headquarters is to be relocated. A Defense Ministry official explained to Zama City Mayor Hoshino Katsuji that the ministry has laid down no specific criteria for granting the subsidies. “The official said that this is a subjective judgment of the government,” said Mayor Hoshino at a press conference on November 1.

The government is willing to grant those municipalities subsidies, if they accept the realignment plan.

Municipalities hosting military bases have been granted subsidies in compensation for the base burdens imposed on the residents. The new subsidies system is a sort of “performance-based” system. The amount of subsidies will be decided according to (i) whether a particular municipality has accepted the government plan, (ii) whether it has accepted the environmental impact assessment, (iii) whether it has accepted the construction of facilities, and (iv) whether the construction has been completed.

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo at a press conference on November 1 pointed out that the government has started to use subsidies as a tool to force municipalities to accept the government plan.

Shii demanded that the government put an end to using such a dirty trick.
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