Japan Balks At US Military Cost Estimate
Can you blame them? Who in their right mind would pay $26 billion to shuffle foreign military bases in their own territory?
Surprised by the cost, Japan will ask the United States to explain its estimate that Tokyo will pay some $26 billion for the realignment of the U.S. military here, a top government official said Thursday.In sum, 'you've gotta be out of your mind if you think we're going to pay that price!'
U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Richard Lawless made the estimate on Tuesday, shocking some Japanese officials.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said Japan would seek a clarification from Washington. The Lawless comment came days after the two countries agreed that Japan would pay some $6 billion to help move 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam.
"We need to ask the U.S. side which items are included," Abe said. "This amount is not the result of any agreement, and we have not received any request from the U.S. to shoulder this amount."
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Thursday that he did not know how the Americans arrived at that estimate, and that the government would not impose a tax increase to pay for the realignment.
The number has drawn considerable attention in Japan, since it would amount to more than 60 percent of the country's entire annual defense budget of $42 billion.Apparently, Mr. Lawless must also be brainless to present such a ridiculous estimate.
Accordingly, the government has tried to play down the reliability of the figure. On Wednesday, Koizumi suggested the U.S. may be pandering to American public opinion that the U.S. bears too much responsibility for Japan's defense, while Tokyo bears too little.
Defense chief Fukushiro Nukaga said Lawless was probably not speaking with precision.
"I believe Mr. Lawless just presented his rough plans," Nukaga said, adding there was no official total yet. "After the final agreement is reached, we will come up with an estimated total and present it to the public."