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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 March 12 - 18  > Japan’s ‘sympathy budgets’ include wages for bartenders at U.S. military bases
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2008 March 12 - 18 [US FORCES]

Japan’s ‘sympathy budgets’ include wages for bartenders at U.S. military bases

March 17, 2008
The Japanese government pays for the wages of party managers, bartenders, and tour guides working at U.S. military bases in Japan, a Defense Ministry document shows.

The Defense Ministry made the document available at the request of Japanese Communist Party House of Representatives member Akamine Seiken.

According to the document, among 24,537 employees at U.S. bases in Japan, 715 are “counter attendants” working at cafeterias, 661 are cooks, and 458 are security guards. There are also 93 workers at bars, 29 at bowling alleys, and 52 at golf courses.

Base workers’ wages are paid for by Japan from the so-called “sympathy budget” for funding the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan. It includes 146.3 billion yen this year as wages for these workers.

In order to extend the “sympathy budgets” framework for another three years, the government is trying to open discussions in the House of Representatives on the Japan-U.S. agreement, signed by the two governments in January, to swiftly get it approved by the Diet.

The sympathy budgets have been included in the national budget since 1978. 208.3 billion yen was appropriated in the proposed FY 2008 budget as the sympathy budgets.

It includes the cost of utilities at facilities and housing units in U.S. bases, costs for building facilities, and expenditure to relocate touch-and-go training exercises to Iwojima Island from the U.S. Naval Atsugi Base and other U.S. bases.

Although the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) gives special privileges to the U.S. forces in Japan, its Article 24 provides that the United States is required to pay for the stationing of their forces in Japan other than the cost of leasing facilities. Japan is thus providing the sympathy budget in violation of the law.
- Akahata, March 17, 2008
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