Japan asked to shell out extra $1 billion over marines’ transfer to Guam

Kyodo

Washington is pushing Tokyo to pay an additional $1 billion over the transfer of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam, reneging on an earlier pledge to shoulder the costs itself, sources close to bilateral relations said Saturday.

Specifically, Japan has been asked to cover the equivalent of ¥82 billion in extra costs to construct American military facilities on the U.S. territory, despite a bilateral agreement to share the financial burden, the sources said.

The request was initially made during a recent review of the realignment of American forces in Japan, and comes as the U.S. Congress cranks up the pressure on President Barack Obama to cut federal expenditures.

On Friday, U.S. officials repeated the request during negotiations with Japanese government representatives in San Francisco, but Tokyo has been reluctant to agree so far.

Japan instead is arguing that its share of the costs should be reduced because the United States announced earlier this month that 3,300 fewer marines will be transferred to Guam, following the realignment review, the sources said.

Under a deal reached by the two sides over the marines’ relocation, Japan will fund the construction of living facilities for their families, including schools, as well as buildings to house the U.S. military’s command center on the Pacific island.

The United States, meanwhile, will cover the costs of building military-related facilities, such as those used for training purposes.

Japan’s financial contribution over the marines’ redeployment to Guam is effectively capped at $2.8 billion (about ¥230 billion), but this amount would be exceeded if it accepts the United States’ latest request.

On the other hand, Washington’s expenses, capped at $4.2 billion (around ¥346 billion), probably would be reduced.

In 2006, the two countries agreed to transfer 8,000 marines stationed in Okinawa Prefecture, which hosts the majority of U.S. military facilities in Japan, to Guam. However, the realignment review proposed that this figure be slashed to just 4,700 marines.