Yomiuri claimed in a front-page article that the GOJ is expected to sign a provisional contract with the landowner this week to buy Mageshima off Kagoshima as a relocation site for the U.S. military’s carrier landing practice (FCLP). The GOJ is reportedly committed to spending some 16 billion yen ($147 million) for the purchase, which will clear the way for the implementation of the proposed transfer of FCLP from Iwoto to Mageshima. The U.S. and Japan are reportedly likely to seal a formal deal on the relocation initiative when a 2+2 foreign and defense ministerial meeting is convened in the first half of this year.
The daily added in a separate piece that the Kantei was instrumental in achieving a breakthrough in the negotiations between the Defense Ministry and the landowner, which initially asked the GOJ to pay 46 billion yen ($420 million) for the uninhabited island. The Kantei decided to pay 6 billion yen ($55 million) on top of the 10 billion yen ($92 million) that the ministry had proposed earlier in order to finalize the deal and take corresponding steps quickly in response to the transfer last March of carrier-borne aircraft from NAF Atsugi to MCAS Iwakuni. Construction of planned SDF facilities on the island may take nearly a decade.