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2011 March 30 - April 5 [POLITICS]

Does Japan have to continue to reward US forces?

April 1, 2011
In the plenary session of both houses on March 31, the Democratic, Liberal Democratic, and Komei parties approved a special agreement on the so-called “sympathy budget” to use one trillion yen in tax revenues over the next five years (20 billion yen per year) to support the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan.

The DPJ-led government claims that the “sympathy budget” is necessary to reward the U.S. military for its relief operation named “Operation Tomodachi (friend)” in the Great East Japan Disaster-hit regions.

As of March 24, the total amount that the U.S. military used for the operation was about 25 million dollars (about 2.1 billion yen) according to the U.S. Department of Defense. It accounts for only about 1.1% of the 185.8 billion yen “sympathy budget.”

In response to the major earthquake off the coast of Sumatra and the resulting tsunami that occurred in December 2004, the U.S. military sent large-scale relief missions and support goods to the countries affected. However, it did not claim a reward from the disaster-hit nations.

If the U.S. forces really regard the Japanese people as “Tomodachi”, it should instruct the Japanese government to use the money allocated to the “sympathy budget” for assistance to the disaster victims.
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