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By Gerardo R. Partido

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Nov. 7) – Some US$3.2 billion may be spent by the government of Japan in relocating the U.S. Marine Corps headquarters from Okinawa to Guam.

The Yomiuri Shimbun on Thursday reported that the U.S. government has asked Japan to pay up to 374 billion yen (US$3.2 billion) in costs needed to relocate Marines based in Okinawa to Guam.

The bulk of some 7,000 Marines planned for relocation will be transferred to Guam over the next six years as part of recommendations accepted by the United States and Japan last week.

The U.S. has reportedly asked the Japanese government for financial assistance to fund the transfer to Guam.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan has promised to try to accommodate the U.S. request, and the two governments will continue negotiations to determine the exact amount of Japan’s financial support.

Because of the huge cost of the relocation, the Japanese government may have to come up with budgetary appropriations for the transfer of the Marines separately from the defense budget.

The bulk of the Japanese financial assistance is expected to be used to construct new facilities for the Marines on Guam.

The Guam Contractors Association has welcomed the news that the Japanese government will help fund the Marines’ transfer to Guam, citing the dependability of such a government commitment.

GCA executive director James Martinez said new construction will most likely be needed either for new barracks or some kind of housing development for the Marines and their families.

"Also, a lot of them will probably want to live off-base so single-dwelling and condominium unit owners will also benefit from the influx of Marine families who may opt to rent a place off-base," Martinez said.

Guam Chamber of Commerce armed forces committee vice chairman Carl Peterson said the transfer of the Marines is also expected to boost military tourism on island.

"All of those Marines have relatives and friends and we intend to persuade many of them to visit Guam for a vacation with their loved ones," Peterson told Variety.

Peterson, who is also a board member of the Guam Visitors Bureau, said GVB is already in the process of completing a special DVD aimed at enticing military families to visit Guam.

"We plan to give every new military arrival on Guam one of those DVDs," Peterson said.

The GVB has long been targeting the military market as a niche tourism market because of its high returns and the fact that military tourists bring in more revenue because they don’t go through middlemen or tour brokers to visit Guam.

November 7, 2005

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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