No accord yet on who pays to move Marines to Guam
By David Allen and Chiyomi Sumida, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Sunday, April 16, 2006

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — After two days of talks in Tokyo, U.S. and Japanese officials were unable to reach an agreement on how much Japan should pay for the move of some 8,000 Marines to Guam.

For months, the two countries have been split on how to pay the estimated $10 billion it will cost to move the headquarters of III Marine Expeditionary Force to Guam, as set forth in last October’s agreement to realign U.S. forces in Japan.

U.S. officials had asked for Japan to pay 75 percent of the cost, explaining that the move would take longer without Japan’s financial assistance. Japan had offered to pay just a third of that amount but came up with a compromise Thursday that would cover about $6 billion — $3 billion outright and another $3 billion in loans, according Associated Press and Kyodo News reports.

Japanese officials would not confirm the reports.

“We are in the final stretch and heading toward a resolution overall, but there is still distance between us on the Marines’ relocation cost,” Japan Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga told reporters following an hourlong Friday morning meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Japan J. Thomas Schieffer and Richard Lawless, deputy undersecretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific affairs.

“We will continue negotiations on things that remain up in the air after today’s talks and will continue the working-level dialogue without a pause,” Nukaga said.

The talks this week followed a deal struck last Friday by the Defense Agency with Nago Mayor Yoshikazu Shimabukuro on a revised plan to relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from urban Ginowan to an airfield to be built on Camp Schwab in Okinawa’s rural northeast shore.

Following Friday’s meeting, Lawless said he was pleased at the progress that has been made, especially the Camp Schwab deal, according to U.S. Embassy spokesman Michael Boyle in Tokyo.

“He said he was very pleased that the plan to build a V-shaped pair of runways on Camp Schwab meets with both operational and safety requirements,” Boyle said. “And he said the sides agreed to continue to work and be as creative as possible in coming to a solution on the remaining matters.”