(Kanagawa Shimbun: February 24, 2016 – Top play)
The U.S. military is planning to expand the number of personnel by over 300 at the U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility in Yokosuka, a source close to the matter has revealed. The plan has already been earmarked in a budget draft for the fiscal year through September 2017. The Yokosuka base has been working to add to its military capabilities through deployment of additional warships. Along with this move, it appears to be speeding up efforts to boost its support functions.
The U.S. forces will deploy an Aegis cruiser and three destroyers to Yokosuka from 2015 to 2017 on account of the government’s strategic emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region. The naval base will host a total of 14 warships.
The SRF in Yokosuka has a staff of about 200 U.S. military personnel and 1,800 Japanese engineers. It is responsible for providing repair services for warships, which make up a carrier task force of the Seventh Fleet, the only forward deployed fleet of the U.S. military outside the continental U.S.
A public affairs official of the U.S. Navy explains that in the fiscal 2017 budget that allocates money to the section responsible for vessel repairs in Japan, “additional deployment will require the recruitment of 10 personnel, who will be directly hired by the U.S. government, and 351 non-U.S. citizens. The budget for non-U.S. citizen hires will be determined based on a bilateral agreement with the Japanese government.”
Labor expenses for Japanese personnel working at U.S. military facilities in Japan are partially financed by the Japanese government through the host-nation support program (sympathy budget). In January, Tokyo and Washington signed a new accord to increase the ceiling of Japan’s payments for Japanese personnel engaged in equipment maintenance. (Abridged)