U.S. shift on Okinawa marines transfer saves Tokyo $3.3 billion; SDF to join exercises on Tinian

Japan catches break on Guam loans


Japan and the United States have agreed to cancel plans for Tokyo to provide $3.29 billion in loans for the transfer of U.S. Marines in Okinawa Prefecture to Guam, Japanese sources said Friday.

The decision was confirmed at Thursday’s bilateral meeting of high-level foreign affairs and defense officials on the review of the 2006 roadmap for realigning U.S. forces in Japan, the sources said.

Japan was slated to extend the loans to help finance construction of housing for families of the marines to be moved to the U.S. territory from Okinawa.

But the U.S. decided to keep the Marine Corps command in Okinawa intact, making the new housing on Guam unnecessary. This will reduce Japan’s share of the relocation costs to $2.8 billion, which will be used to build other Guam facilities, the sources said.

Tokyo and Washington also agreed on a Self-Defense Forces deployment to Tinian, one of the U.S.-administered Northern Mariana Islands, to participate in joint drills, the sources said.

Japan will shoulder part of the costs if improving U.S. military facilities on Tinian. The spending will be included in the $2.8 billion to be earmarked for the transfer of marines to Guam, they said.

Noda in favor with U.S.


Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is viewed more favorably by Washington than his two predecessors and could better help the U.S. cope with China’s rise if he survives domestic challenges, according to The Washington Post.

The administration of President Barack Obama appreciates that “Noda has moved the U.S.-Japan alliance back to the center of Japanese strategy after his predecessors flirted with ‘balancing’ between China and the United States,” the Post said in an editorial ahead of Noda’s visit from April 29.

“U.S. officials are impatient with Japan’s leadership merry-go-round and its perceived inability to deliver on promises,” the paper said, adding, “There is some ambivalence in Washington about how long a lifeline to throw.”

Noda’s predecessors were Naoto Kan and Yukio Hatoyama. “After two relatively flamboyant but utterly clueless premiers, Noda’s solidity is welcome,” it said.

Noting that Noda’s consensus building approach represents a return to a traditional Japanese leadership style, the paper said that if Noda overcomes domestic challenges, he could better help the United States cope with a rising China and that “he might even set an example for leaders in other democracies.”