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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 March 19 - 25  > End ‘sympathy budget’ for U.S. military
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2008 March 19 - 25 [US FORCES]

End ‘sympathy budget’ for U.S. military

March 24, 2008
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Thirty years have passed since the government started paying the costs for the stationing of the U.S. forces in Japan under the name of the “sympathy budget.” With the range of “sympathy budget” coverage expanding year by year, Japan now pays for everything for the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan except their wages.

For the fiscal year starting April 1, Japan has adopted another sympathy budget amounting to 208.3 billion yen. The total amount of Japan’s payment for the stationing of U.S. forces in the FY 2008 will be 620 billion yen (about 6 billion dollars), including 18 billion yen for the implementation of the SACO (Special Action Committee on Okinawa) agreement and 23.9 billion yen for the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.

Japan pays for the construction of U.S. military facilities serving the U.S. preemptive war strategy, including shelters for aircraft, dredging work in the Yokosuka Base for deploying a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, and a facility for the maintenance of Landing Craft Air Cushion, which is part of the U.S. strike force.

Japan, which has constitutionally declared renunciation of war as means of solving international disputes, must not use tax money to help maintain and strengthen the U.S. preemptive attack capability, which goes against the U.N. Charter.

The cost for building luxurious housing units for U.S. military personnel is also paid for by Japan’s “sympathy budget.” For the construction of housing units in the Ikego district of Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan will pay about 78 million yen per unit. It will also pay 60 million yen per unit at the U.S. Yokosuka Naval Base.

The government also pays the wages for Japanese base employees, including bartenders, party managers, and even for those who take care of pets. Our tax money is used to entertain U.S. military personnel and care for their pets!

Japan has no legal obligation to pay the “sympathy budget.” The Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement in Article 24 provides that the United States is required to pay all costs for the stationing of its forces in Japan.

The government brags about cutting Japan’s payment for utilities for U.S. bases by 800 million yen over the next three years. However, it keeps silent about its failure to achieve its promise of a 10 billion yen cut in the sympathy budget due to U.S. opposition.

The government is attempting to force Japanese tax payers to shoulder the enormous costs for the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan in exchange for a slight cut in the sympathy budget.

Former U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Richard Lawless said that three trillion yen would be needed for the U.S. military realignment in Japan. Clearly, the government intends to win public support for the use of tax money for the U.S. military realignment by cutting out a tiny portion of the sympathy budget.

It is getting things backwards to pay for the welfare of U.S. forces while cutting the expenditure on social services by 220 billion yen every year. The government must show “sympathy” to Japanese citizens and improve social security programs for the people instead of paying the sympathy budget for U.S. forces.
- Akahata, March 24, 2008
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