The government has proposed to the United States a cut in Tokyo’s burden in upkeep costs for U.S. military facilities and personnel in Japan following the enactment of a controversial security legislation last month, informed sources said Sunday.
By curtailing its cost burden, Japan appears keen to generate funds for an expansion of the Self-Defense Forces’ activities and the stepped-up defense of a chain of remote islands in the country’s southwest, sources said.
Japan is currently shouldering labor costs for Japanese nationals working at U.S. military facilities, utility costs of the military and other expenses.
A total of ¥191.2 billion has been earmarked to cover such spending under the government’s fiscal 2015 budget.
The government hopes to reach a conclusion by the end of December, when it compiles a draft of the fiscal 2016 budget, following talks between foreign affairs and defense officials of the two countries, according to the sources.
But the bilateral talks may not go smoothly, as the U.S. seems reluctant to accept the proposed cut, which amounts to billions of yen, the sources said.
A Japan-U.S. pact on Tokyo’s share of the upkeep costs is revised every five years in principle. The current pact is set to expire at the end of March 2016.
The amount of spending by Japan has been reduced every year since fiscal 1999 due to the country’s deteriorating fiscal conditions.
In the previous revision of the pact, however, the amount was kept unchanged, to help improve the bilateral relationship, which had been strained under the administration of then-Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of the Democratic Party of Japan, now the main opposition party.
This time, the Japanese side has sought U.S. understanding for a reduction, informing Washington again of its tough fiscal conditions, one source said.