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By Gerardo R. Partido

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Feb. 10) – The U.S. Department of Defense will ask Japan to shoulder 75 percent of the estimated $8 billion needed to relocate U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam, the Asahi Shimbun reported Wednesday.

Citing an unnamed U.S. official, the Shimbun reported that without a substantial contribution from Japan to build facilities on Guam, the relocation move would take 20 years or so to complete.

The Pentagon wants to complete the relocation of the Marines within a 6-year period starting this year.

The official was also quoted as saying that the Marine Corps has only about $100 million allocated annually for the construction of new facilities.

In an interim report released in October last year, Tokyo and Washington agreed to relocate 6,000 Marines to Guam as part of the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.

The U.S. government is considering moving the enlisted men and officers of the III Marine Expeditionary Force.

Tokyo plans to put up the money by making the unprecedented move of enacting a special law to finance the construction of overseas U.S. military facilities because its normal budget would not be able to cover such a huge overlay.

Japan’s money may be used to build a new headquarters on Guam for the Marines, as well as new drill sites and hospitals for the unit, analysts said.

Other construction projects include housing, schools, utility infrastructure and bases in Guam as well as "world-class" training areas not only in Guam but also in the neighboring Northern Marianas.

The relocation of the Marines to Guam was put forward in an interim report on military realignment that Japan and the United States adopted during bilateral security talks held last October.

Although there are currently no facilities on island to fully accommodate the Marines, Gov. Felix Camacho has already promised that the island will be able to accommodate the thousands of Marines headed Guam’s way.

The Camacho administration has formally lobbied the Department of Defense for the transfer of the Marines.

In a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Camacho officially put forward Guam’s desire to host the Marines and other military assets.

But Japan is said to be asking for more details on the relocation plan and the costs involved.

Tokyo and Washington are trying to reach an agreement on the expenses required for the relocation, as well as the ratio of the amount each country will shoulder, by the end of March when a final report on the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan is scheduled to be compiled, the Shimbun reported.

February 10, 2006

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com 

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