WASHINGTON (Kyodo) The United States has proposed providing facilities on Guam for the Self-Defense Forces to keep troops and an aircraft squadron there on a “full-time” basis for training, a U.S. Defense Department official said Tuesday.
Speaking to Japanese reporters, the official said the U.S. has included the cost for the proposed facilities in the estimated $10 billion in total expenses for relocating U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam.
The official added that of the $10 billion, Washington has asked Japan to pay $7.5 billion, through outright grants and loans.
The United States made the training facility proposal during ongoing talks for crafting an implementation plan by the end of the month covering a broad agreement reached in October on realigning the U.S. military presence in Japan.
But uncertainties remain over whether Japan will decide to have such a permanent SDF overseas deployment, which may violate the war-renouncing Constitution.
It may also aggravate China and other Asian neighbors that remain wary of the Japanese military.
In the October accord, which highlighted the Guam relocation, the two nations agreed to increase training opportunities for the SDF on Guam.
“What we have said to Japan is that we like your forces to come to Guam . . . on a pretty much full-time basis,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
“If you want to design the facilities you want to have, if you want to keep a squadron of aircraft or something based in Guam, and design facilities for that, we can figure out where on Anderson Air Force Base, and then we will design your facilities into this total (Guam relocation) project,” the official said.
The official added that the United States has offered to move “at least” 8,000 marines in Okinawa to Guam, instead of an earlier agreed plan to move 6,000 to Guam and 1,000 elsewhere in Japan, meaning that more than 8,000 marines will leave Okinawa in an upcoming implementation plan for a broad bilateral U.S. military realignment accord.
But the official stressed that the U.S. side is prioritizing the planned relocation of the Marine Futenma Air Station within Okinawa, urging the Japanese government to work to end the strong local opposition and pave the way for the move before the two nations proceed with cost and other substantive talks on the Guam relocation.