It is a fact that the Japanese government has proposed a severe pay cut in the base workers' salaries, due to the government's plan in reducing the deficit. There have been studies made comparing the base employees' pay with the public servants' and the private sector's pay. However, it is also a fact that the dissimilarities exist in the working environment of base workers compared to that of the NPS and the private sector. Such dissimilarities were being compensated by the USFJ differential and the language allowances, but the Japanese government has proposed to abolish these allowances.
Okichuro's opinion regarding the abolishment of these allowances is quite indistinguishable with that of Zenchuro. We do not feel that it is reasonable to abolish the allowances. Then, why do we not feel that the strike is appropriate?
First of all, the US government has not agreed with the abolishment of the allowances. If the base employees go on strike, it will only impair the operation of the bases. It may instigate media attention, and perhaps more attention from the Japanese government to convey how intensely we feel about the reduction of pay. However, we feel it is more imperative to let the government and also the Japanese public realize how critical our duties are, and exercise other actions that would steer towards the withdrawal of pay reduction.
Okichuro has been and is continuing to request the Japanese government on the increase in the amount of the Sympathy Budget. The Sympathy Budget is at times misunderstood. It is a budget used to pay for maintaining the peace of Japan and the Asian region in alliance with the US. It is used to pay for the lease of the land utilized for the base installations, for the facilities built on the installations, and also for the electricity used for the operation of the bases. The Sympathy Budget is also used to pay for the labor of the Japanese employees working on base, i.e., our salary. We also are aware that the labor fees are not completely compensated from this budget. The US government pays for approximately 2,000 positions of the base employees' total population in Japan. The Sympathy Budget is used to support the US military base operations, in other words, it is used to support the security of Japan.
The majority of the population in Japan is in concurrence with the Japan-US Security Treaty, and even so in Okinawa, where the majority of the US bases is located. The members of Okichuro work at the US bases in Okinawa for a living. But that is not the only reason we work on the US military bases. We know that the presence of the US military in Okinawa endures the economy of this island. We also know that when we wake up in the morning to start a new day, we would be able to go on safely because the Treaty protects us. We know that freedom is not free.
Some of us work in the food facilities to provide food to the military members, some of us work to provide and maintain military members with facilities to work and live in, or some of us work to provide recreation to the military members. Whatever it is that we do, we know that we are supporting the US military members to do what is necessary to provide us with security. We feel that we are the allies to the US personnel, not only the government to government alliance, but we have the individual responsibility to provide the support.
The pay reduction will be devastating to our living, but we cannot incapacitate the operation of the bases that provide us with security by going on a strike. We are aware of what our responsibilities are and we will pursue it. Zenchuro members have threatened Okichuro members to join them, criticized us for not participating in the strike and attempted to obstruct us from fulfilling our duties, but we will not be defeated. We know that we have the right to go on a strike, and we also know that it is our right not to choose to go on the strike. We will continue to fight for our rights but we will not participate in the strike.