US seeks additional cost for Marines relocation from Japan

US claims expenses to develop infrastructure will cost more than expected.

Tokyo: US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has asked Tokyo to shoulder additional costs to transfer about 8,000 US Marines from Okinawa to Guam.

The increased amount is estimated to be at least tens of billions of yen, with the US side claiming that expenses to develop infrastructure, such as facilities for electricity as well as water and sewerage, will cost more than expected, according to the sources.

Japan is planning to respond to the request, which Gates made in a letter sent in mid-June, after the July 11 House of Councillors election, according to the sources.

The transfer of the Marines to Guam, together with the relocation of the Futenma Air Station in Okinawa, was agreed on in 2006 to be completed in 2014, although a delay in the schedule is expected.

The 2006 agreement said total costs for the transfer to Guam will be USD 10.27 billion, or around JPY 900 billion, of which Japan will shoulder some USD 6.09 billion.

It will inevitably draw criticism from opposition lawmakers and other quarters if the government accepts the increase in the cost burden.

Before submitting the letter, Gates made the request during talks with his Japanese counterpart, Toshimi Kitazawa, in Singapore on June 05. But Kitazawa declined to respond directly at that time as it was shortly after the abrupt resignation of Yukio Hatoyama as prime minister.


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