Workers strike at US bases in Japan

More than 16,000 workers at military bases protest at proposed benefit cuts.

    Japan spends billions of dollars from its defence budget on US bases [EPA]

    The Japanese government is under pressure to tighten its purse-strings on supporting some 50,000 American soldiers based in the country.

     

    Japan is the only host country to subsidise the costs for US bases with a budget of billions of dollars a year.

     

    It has allocated 217.3bn yen ($1.98bn) until March 2008.

     

    'Show of consensus' 

     

    Kazuo Yamakawa, the union's chairman, said the strike was to demonstrate "a consensus among base workers that we cannot accept one-sided, disadvantageous changes to our working conditions".

     

    Most of the strikers were restaurant workers, cleaners or housing maintenance staff on the bases, reported Japan's Kyodo News agency.

    A Japanese defence ministry official said the strike will have some effect on the bases' operations but declined to immediately comment on the scale of it, citing possible ramifications on US-Japan relations.


    Tsuneo Teruya, the union's secretary-general, said the action was the first nationwide strike at US bases in Japan since 1991.

     

    A US military official said the strike had did not affected critical operations at the bases.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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