Japan, US sign pact on Tokyo keeping base-hosting costs for 5

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Tokyo, Jan 21 (Kyodo) Japan and the United States todaysigned a new pact on Tokyo maintaining the annual costs ofhosting US bases at the current level of USD 2.26 billion fora five-year period from fiscal 2011.

The special measures agreement on Tokyo''s host nationsupport also includes a clause that enables Japan to shouldersome of the costs of relocating the F-15 fighter drills basedin Okinawa to the US territory of Guam.

The accord replaces an existing one that will expire inMarch. The Japanese government is set to present the treatyfor ratification to the ordinary session of the Diet, whichwill open next Monday.

Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said at a signing ceremonyheld at his ministry, "I am confident that the new pact willhelp reduce the base-hosting burden on the people in Okinawa."US Ambassador to Japan John Roos also took part in the event.

Japan will cover some of the necessary costs to relocateF-15 drills from US Kadena Air Base in Okinawa to Guam, sothat about 20 fighters can take part in each training sessionin the island territory, with each session lasting up to 20days, according to Japanese officials.

"I would also like to declare that we will stop using theterm ''sympathy budget'' to describe the host-nation support,because this pact on our spending will be signed from thestrategic viewpoints of the two countries," Maehara said.

Roos said Japan''s host-nation support "allows us tomaintain some of the critical defense capabilities that arenot only important for the defense of Japan, but critical forthe stability in this region of the world." (Kyodo)

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