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Defense ministry does not rule out Japan's continued payment of costs for U.S. Marines

The Japanese government may pay the costs for U.S. Marines activities in Guam after they move there from Okinawa until 2014. This is in addition to the 60 billion yen Japan promised to pay for the cost of "relocating" a part of the U.S. Marine Corps units from Okinawa to Guam.

At a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee meeting on April 3, Kasai Akira of the Japanese Communist Party questioned the government about the burdens Japan is to shoulder under the February 2009 Japan-U.S. Agreement on the relocation of U.S. III Marine Expeditionary Force personnel and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam.

Pointing out that the ministry report detailing the costs for the USMC Guam relocation states that the 10.27 billion dollars earmarked for the relocation does not include costs for moving Marine Corps units from Okinawa to Guam as well as their activities in Guam, Kasai asked, "Won't Japan be asked to pay costs for traveling to Guam and for activities in Guam?"

Takamizawa Nobushige, chief of the ministry's Defense Policy Bureau, answered that the ministry has dealt with the payment issue on a case by case basis when U.S. forces in Okinawa traveled to Japan's mainland for training exercises. Takamizawa's answer implies that the Japanese government does not rule out the possibility that Japan will continue making financial contributions to U.S. troops stationed in Guam even after their relocation from Okinawa.

The Guam 'relocation' agreement, if ratified, will force Japan to pay costs for the relocation to the United States indefinitely, Kasai said.

- Akahata, April 4, 2009

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