Klaus Herrle, in his March 29 letter, “Painful to see payoffs to U.S.,” gets straight to the point of criticizing Washington’s demand that Japan pay an additional $1 billion for transferring U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam and elsewhere.
Although there was no need to do so, Tokyo stupidly agreed in 2006 to share 59 percent of the transfer costs or $6.1 billion (out of a total estimated amount of $10.3 billion). However, under severe U.S. congressional pressure and because of the Obama administration’s strained budgetary situation, the U.S. side seems unable to appropriate its transfer share of $4.2 billion.
So, the Pentagon’s Japan hands hit upon a tricky idea: First, it said that only 4,700 marines, instead of 8,000, would be transferred to Guam while the rest (3,300) would be rotated among Hawaii, Australia and Guam. Since 8,000 are to be moved outside Okinawa regardless and Japan is still held to paying the $6.1 billion it originally agreed to, infrastructure development and base facility construction on Guam for the 4,700 marines and their dependents will end up being carried out with mostly Japanese funds.
This number was further reduced to 4,300 as negotiations progressed. Together with a 500-strong marine helicopter contingent moving from Iwakuni, Okinawa will be forced to host 11,300 personnel, instead of the originally expected 10,000.
It was apparent that Washington’s demand that Japan pay an additional $1 billion was to give it a bargaining chip to ultimately win the original $6.1 billion Japan promised to pay. The Japanese side resisted the U.S. initiative as usual, but easily relented, saying “the harmony of the bilateral alliance” is important, according to a March 31 Kyodo News dispatch.
Certainly, there is something absolutely wrong with such bilateral relations and the alliance. Before they gloat over their tricky negotiation skills, the Pentagon’s Japan hands should be aware of the ill effects on bilateral relations.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.