Tokyo Unnerved by U.S. Wavering on Guam Military Buildup


Thursday, December 15, 2011 



GUAM – This week's action on Capitol Hill to delay funding for the Guam buildup portion of a blueprint to realign troops in Japan and Asia-Pacific marks the first serious sign of U.S. wavering on the plan, even if all Congress has really done yet is call the price tag of the buildup into question.

While Congress is demanding more cohesive detail from the Pentagon on the broader plan for implementing the realignment, its actions this week have stopped short of calling for an outright end to American funding for the plan.

A story in The Wall Street Journal talks about why the bigger dilemma lies in the fact that a newly tentative U.S. can only weaken political resolve in Tokyo for building a new air base for the Marines on Okinawa to replace the one in the island's crowded Futenma region.

For over a decade, through various U.S. Presidents, America has led the charge to implement the troop realignment roadmap agreement with Japan. To be sure, Tokyo has needed Washington's support and pressure to keep its part of the deal on track, especially the controversial Futenma replacement facility part of that plan – without which, the Marine transfer to Guam would not happen.

Even as Tokyo has funded its portion of the Guam buildup since 2009, appropriating over $1 billion already for Guam construction, it has made too little progress on a Futenma replacement facility. The Obama Administration and even Congressional leaders understand that if they do not want to derail plans for a modernized military presence in Japan, they must find a balance between new fiscal austerity in Washington and assuring Tokyo that America will uphold its alliance agreement.



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