Japan decided to agree to a request from the United States to pay more to host its military forces from fiscal year 2022 after the two countries held working-level negotiations in Washington from late November to early this month. , diplomatic sources said on Sunday.
Japan is expected to reach an agreement later this month on the increase with the United States before Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s cabinet decides on a draft budget for the fiscal year beginning in April, officials said. the sources.
The Japanese government is believed to have determined that some increase in so-called host nation support is inevitable in light of the need to strengthen their long-standing security alliance. US forces are currently mobilizing their most advanced equipment in the region to counter China’s rapid military expansion.
The focus will then be on the magnitude of the increase, given that the base cost of US troops in Japan is also increasing.
For the current fiscal year through March, support to cover costs, such as utilities and salaries of Japanese personnel at US military bases, has been budgeted at 201.7 billion yen (1.79 billion dollars).
Japan had sought to play down any increase in aid due to its strained finances, while Washington, the sources said, had asked Tokyo to pay more of the cost, noting the need for US forces to deal with China.
Tokyo had asked Washington during their talks to reduce the amount of the financial contribution to the costs of public services, because any increase in this area would not directly contribute to strengthening American deterrence in the region, which would make it difficult to obtain the public support, the sources said.
Japan had instead asserted that the United States should use Tokyo’s increased contribution to fund expenses such as the maintenance of facilities jointly used by the Self-Defense Forces and the United States military and their joint exercises, it said. indicated the sources.
Cost-sharing agreements between Japan and the United States are generally signed for a period of five years.
But for fiscal 2021, the two countries agreed to a one-year extension of a five-year pact that expired in March 2021, as their talks were affected by the transition of power in Washington to President Joe Biden from his predecessor, Donald Trump.
Following the December deal, Japan and the United States are expected to sign a special host nation support agreement next month at a meeting involving their defense and foreign ministers, the sources said.
In the four years under Trump with his “America First” foreign policy, Japan and other countries like South Korea have faced intense pressure from Washington to dramatically increase their financial contributions to the military. American.
Trump had criticized the alliance with Japan as one-sided, saying, for example, in June 2019 in a television interview that “if Japan is attacked, we will fight World War III…but if we are attacked, Japan will not didn’t help us at all. They can watch it on a Sony TV.
A Japanese diplomatic source said last month that the increase currently being considered is unlikely to be as high as what was requested by the Trump administration.
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