Some service members in Japan saw a welcome surprise in their paychecks Wednesday after the cost-of-living allowance increased across the region, a U.S. Forces Japan official said during a livestreamed town hall Thursday.
Service members at Camp Zama, Misawa Air Base, Yokota Air Base and Camp Fuji will receive about $4.50 more per day, an increase of 4 percentage points, USFJ's senior enlisted leader Chief Master Sgt. Rick Winegartner said via USFJ's official Facebook page. That's about $67.50 more per 15-day pay period.
Personnel stationed at Naval Base Yokosuka, Naval Base Sasebo or installations in Yokohama or on Okinawa received a boost of about $2.25 per day, Winegartner said in the livestream town hall hosted by American Forces Network Pacific radio. That's about $33.75 more per paycheck.
Cost-of-living allowance rates reflect how expensive it is to live in an area as compared to the United States. The Defense Department uses a percentage point system to adjust the rate, so an increase of four points means the area's cost of living is an additional 4% higher than it would be back home.
The increase follows a decrease in cost-of-living allowances in November at many installations in Japan. Camp Zama saw a reduction of eight points; Misawa lost six points; Atsugi, Iwakuni, Sasebo and Yokota lost four points; and Okinawa lost two, according to a Defense Travel Agency statement Nov. 19.
Winegartner said he was glad to share positive news during the livestream, which was otherwise punctuated with questions from the public about the novel coronavirus pandemic. He and other U.S. military officials across Japan have been participating in regular virtual town halls and video statements regarding coronavirus-related policy changes during the pandemic.
"Some good news -- it has nothing to do with COVID -- I just wanted to be able to share that so everybody can go, 'Hey, good news comes out of these conversations, as well,'" Winegartner said in the livestream, referring to the name of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
He did not mention whether COLA changed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni or Naval Air Station Atsugi.
USFJ did not immediately respond Friday to a request for further information about the changes or whether other installations in Japan qualified for an increase.