Host-nation support to stand at ¥188 billion until 2016

by Masami Ito

Japan agreed Tuesday to maintain its level of host-nation support for U.S. forces at an annual ¥188.1 billion for the next five years starting in fiscal 2011.

The agreement was a compromise between the two governments as Japan had been seeking to slash the contribution due to its tight financial situation while the U.S. had been hoping for an increase amid China’s growing military power and tension on the Korean Peninsula.

“I believe it is appropriate to maintain the total amount at the current stage,” Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said.

The host-nation support peaked in fiscal 1999 at ¥275.6 billion but has since been on the decline.

The new accord will maintain the figure at ¥188.1 billion between fiscal 2011 and 2015. But Japan will reduce the salaries of base employees, lowering its labor ceiling from the current 23,055 workers to 22,625 and will gradually lower the utility fees the government pays for U.S. bases from the current 76 percent to 72 percent over the five-year period.

According to Foreign and Defense ministry officials, the money saved from cuts on wages and utilities will be used for maintenance and upgrading facilities on the bases. The two governments also agreed to take environmentally friendly steps for facility maintenance, including introducing energy-saving measures.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan and President Barack Obama reached a basic accord last month during a meeting held on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Yokohama.

Japan began providing host-nation support in fiscal 1978.