US asks for millions of dollars from Japan for base

Okinawa plans to file a lawsuit against the Japanese government for failing to relocate the facility.

US asks for millions of dollars from Japan for base

The United States has asked Japan to shoulder additional costs for shifting part of the U.S. Marines based in southern Japan to Guam, Kyodo news agency said, further complicating bilateral ties already hurt by disputes over where to relocate the U.S. airbase.

Meanwhile, Okinawa plans to file a lawsuit against the government for failing to relocate the facility.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the request last month because costs for upgrading water, electricity and other infrastructure to accommodate incoming personnel will likely exceed original estimates, Kyodo said, citing diplomatic sources.

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama broke his promise to move off unwanted US base on the Japanese southern island of Okinawa last year and resigned finally.

US plans to transfer of about 8,000 US Marines to the U.S. territory of Guam from Okinawa by 2014 and relocate Futenma functions to the less populated area of Okinawa.

Of the total estimated costs of $10.27 billion for the transfer to Guam, Japan was originally set to pay $2.8 billion and extend $3.29 billion in loans, with the remaining $4.18 billion shouldered by the U.S. side.

The additional amount the United States is asking is estimated to come at least to several hundred million dollars, Kyodo said.

"Lawsuit"

Ginowan mayor Yoichi Iha says he plans to file a lawsuit before March next year to question the government's policy in court.

The complaint will argue that the Futenma airbase threatens the safety of Okinawans and violates the country's constitution.

"We were forced to accept an excess burden of hosting the US base and denied even the basic human rights in our everyday lives. Therefore, I decided to question at court the government's policy in providing the Futenma airbase [to the United States]," Iha said in a news conference on Friday.

This comes after Japan's new Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he is committed to a deal reached in May to relocate the US base to Okinawa's Henoko region.

The island's governor has called the plan "absolutely in-excusable" and against the will of local residents.

The Futenma base has provoked a wave of anger in the country, with the nation demanding a complete removal of the airbase off Okinawa.

Despite widespread criticism, the new premier has confirmed that he would honor the recent Japan-US deal to only move the base to a less crowded part of Okinawa.

Tens of thousands of people have held several rallies against the American military presence in the country over the past months.

The Japanese government, which is facing an urgent task of tackling bulging public debt to stave off the type of sovereign debt crisis that has roiled Greece, plans to reply to the request after an upper house election on July 11, Kyodo said.


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Temmuz 2010, 11:12

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