Japan budgets the vig
Posted by ampontan on Friday, December 24, 2010
IN 2006, Japan agreed to pay $US 6.09 billion to the United States for the costs associated with relocating American Marines from Okinawa to Guam. Of that, $US 740 million will be for the local infrastructure, including sewer systems, to handle the Marines.
On the 21st, the Japanese government allocated $US 720 million in their proposal for the FY 2011 budget as the first payment of their obligation. The money might be provided as a loan by the Japan Bank of International Cooperation, though the government of Guam says they’re not interested in repaying a loan. As we’ve noted earlier, the United States government has said it will not be responsible for guaranteeing the repayment of the loan.
In other words, the Japanese government is giving the United States money to relocate American military forces from Japan to United States territory. The Marines are now based on Okinawa, and the Okinawans have been desperate for years to have at least some American personnel moved elsewhere. The land area of the Okinawan islands totals 877 square miles, on which is based 70% of the American military presence in Japan. American military installations occupy slightly more than 10% of all Okinawan territory. They include one Air Force base, one Navy aviation facility, and two Marine aviation facilities.
In comparison, Rhode Island–the smallest of the 50 American states–has nearly twice the land area of Okinawa at 1,545 square miles.
The Japan-U.S. Security Treaty provides for the stationing of American forces in Japan “to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security in the Far East and to the security of Japan against armed attack from without”. While I have the utmost respect for the skills and dedication of the Marines, I suspect none of them would define their mission as defense. The negotiations to move some of the personnel, incidentally, began in earnest after two Marines and one sailor raped a 12-year-old Okinawa girl in 1995.
Yet there is a lot of resentment in some quarters in the United States, particularly among those who favor a strong military, for what they perceive as foreigners getting a free ride for national defense while Uncle Sam foots the bill and takes all the risks.
There is no longer any excuse–none–to apply this thinking to Japan.
Far from being a free ride, that $US 6.09 billion the Japanese will pay just to move the Marines would place it in a tie for 27th place with Norway among 152 countries in annual military expenditures in 2009, based on constant 2008 U.S. dollars, as calculated by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Japan ranks seventh overall on the list; North Korea’s expenditures are unreported.
Let’s dispense with the free ride hogwash and call a spade a spade: The Japanese government is paying vigorish to the United States of America for a protection scheme.
Those people who think the American media does a first-rate job of covering the news might consider this: As I write, the only American news outlets covering this story were the Stars and Stripes (the military newspaper) and UPI, which summarized the coverage by the Yomiuri Shimbun.