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Scrap bill to ratify Guam Treaty

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Japan's parliament will soon begin discussing the Japan-U.S. agreement on the implementation of the relocation of a part of III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF) personnel and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam, which, if enacted, will force Japan to pay the relocation costs.

Even the Japanese government admits that no other country has ever paid costs for the construction of foreign military facilities in foreign territory in preparation for the relocation of a part of forces currently stationed in the country.

Such an extraordinary act of subservience could not happen in any other country in the world, revealing that Japan does not recognize the importance of defending its national sovereignty.

Worse still, the government is attempting to railroad the Guam Treaty ratification through the Diet by alleging that the USMC relocation, if enacted, will contribute to reducing Okinawa's excessive burden of U.S. military bases.

This is not true. After signing the "Guam International Agreement" with Japanese Foreign Minister Nakasone Hirofumi on February 17 in Tokyo, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated at the joint press conference: "This agreement reflects the commitment we have to modernize our military posture in the Pacific. It enshrines our two nations' shared contributions in carrying out the realignment of our forces and the relocation of marines from Okinawa to Guam."

It is clear that Japan is serving U.S. military strategy by providing funding for the construction and realignment of U.S. bases on Guam, including the relocation of the Okinawa-based III MEF command.

Citing the May 2006 Japan-U.S. agreement, called the "Roadmap," the Guam Agreement states in the preamble that the "III MEF relocation from Okinawa to Guam is dependent on: (1) tangible progress toward completion of the Futenma Replacement Facility" (by completion of a new air base in Nago City, Okinawa), and (2) Japan's financial contributions to fund development of required facilities and infrastructure on Guam.

This is nothing but an attempt to suppress Okinawans' demands. Their aim is to force Okinawans to agree to accept the new base construction in Okinawa. However, 70 percent of the 1.2 million Okinawans are against the new base plan, according to a recent opinion survey.

The new agreement is designed to allay opposition in Okinawa. How can we allow the Diet to approve such an agreement? It is unprecedented in that it unilaterally urges Japan to push the plan in a manner "within the overall package," in which "the Okinawa-related realignment initiatives are interconnected."

Also, the extent of Japan's extra burden sharing surfaced concerning the construction of U.S. military facilities on Guam that are not mentioned in the 2006 Roadmap.

A basic plan, released in March by the Defense Ministry at the House of Representatives at the request of Kasai Akira, Japanese Communist Party representative, gave details on this. It states that Japan's payment will be also used for the realignment of U.S. Air and Naval facilities existing on Guam (beside the alleged construction of Marine housing units).

For example, Japan will pay the cost for the renewal of the Apra Harbor Naval Complex, making it possible to harbor 40,000-ton class assault landing ships, aircraft carriers, and high speed transport ships loaded with one thousand personnel. These were not referred to in the Roadmap.

Of the estimated 10.27 billion dollars for the Guam relocation project in total, the Japanese government is going to provide the U.S. with 6.09 billion dollars, including 2.8 billion dollars in direct cash contributions in addition to 32.9 billion dollars in loans and other means of funding. The government, however, failed to show any supportive evidence to justify such an exorbitant contribution.

Paying 2.8 billion dollars for the construction of marine command buildings and schools is outrageously costly compared with the amount paid under the "sympathy budget" for U.S. forces in Japan. Nothing is explained about why Marine housing will cost 70 million yen on Guam where land prices are low, while it costs 50 million yen for similar housing in Japan with its high land prices.

Originally, the plan to consolidate and realign U.S. military bases in Guam and Japan is aimed at modernizing their military posture to meet the former U.S. Bush administration's scheme so that U.S. troops can be sent quickly anywhere in the world as first-strike units making interventions in other nations.

By learning lessons from the military fiasco in Iraq, the U.S. administration is called upon to immediately reconsider the bilateral agreement on the Guam-Okinawa relocation and realignment.

There is no sane alternative but to scrap such a reckless agreement after a thorough discussion. Japan is called upon to halt the plan to realign U.S. forces in Japan in order to keep Japan as a non-aggressor nation based on equal Japan-U.S. relations.

- Akahata, April 3, 2009

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