The Diet on May 13 approved an agreement that requires Japan, supposedly a sovereign nation, to pay the cost of constructing a foreign country’s military base outside Japan as part of a plan to “relocate” a part of the U.S. Marine Corps to Guam from Okinawa.
Under the agreement, Japan will pay about 2.8 billion dollars for the construction of U.S. base-related facilities in Guam. The Diet approved the agreement after only three days of discussion in the House of Representatives and four days in the House of Councilors without solving any problems that this might cause to the public
The biggest problem about the agreement is that the “relocation” plan is conditioned upon the construction of a new U.S. air base in Okinawa. The agreement reaffirms that this “package” includes all U.S. military realignment projects as stated in Article 3 to the effect that the “relocation” to Guam is “dependent on tangible progress” towards the completion of a new base off the coast of U.S. Camp Schwab in Nago City, Okinawa.
During the House of Councilors Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense meeting on April 23, Umemoto Kazuyoshi, director-general of the North American Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, “The Japanese government intention (to construct a new base) is stated in this agreement, but this does not mean Japan has the legal obligation to do so.” However, at a House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs meeting on April 8, Umemoto stated, “If the progress on one side (Nago) stalls, it will affect the other side (Guam).”
U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa will be reinforced Secondly, the government explanation that the USMC Guam ‘relocation’ will help reduce Okinawans’ burdens associated with U.S. military presence was proven to be false in the course of parliamentary discussions.
The government in the Diet explained repeatedly that the number of U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa will be reduced by 8,000 from the fixed number of 18,000. But this means that actual reduction can be less if the current number of Marines deployed is fewer than 18,000. This suggests that the U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa could be reinforced contrary to the treaty’s objective stated in its preamble, that the “implementation of the realignment initiatives” will “reduce the burden on local communities, including those on Okinawa.”
Thirdly, the government failed to show any justifiable reason for using 2.8 billion dollars in tax money to help strengthen U.S. military bases on Guam. It also became clear that the government, if the treaty goes into effect, will possibly be urged to make additional payments using its tax revenue.
In the May 1, 2006 Japan-U.S. Roadmap for Realignment Implementation, the Japanese government agreed to provide $6.09 billion of the estimated $10.27 billion cost of the facilities and infrastructure development costs for the III MEF relocation (8,000 Marines and their 9,000 families) to Guam.
This includes $2.8 billion in direct cash payments, and the rest of about $33 billion will be funded through loans as development costs for the construction of family housings and other facilities. However, in case of loan default for the U.S., the Japanese government will have to cover it financially. What’s worse, it came to light that Japan might be forced to pay the costs for the construction of military facilities of the U.S. Navy and Air Force as well as the costs for training and movement of Marine Corps in addition to the ‘relocation’ of the Marine units.
U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway on May 6 told the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee that the plan to ‘relocate’ Marine Corps units to Guam would be reconsidered. It is not easy for the U.S. amid the serious economic crisis to “fund the remainder of the facilities and infrastructure development costs for the relocation to Guam” of $3.18 billion.
The Guam Agreement will be implemented at the cost of the Japanese people’s livelihoods, because it will force Japan to continue to provide funds till 2014. The Japanese government and the ruling coalition have forced the Diet to approve this unjustifiable international agreement, which must not be allowed.
– Akahata, May 14, 2009