Finance Ministry seeks cuts in host-nation support for U.S. bases


The Finance Ministry wants to reduce host-nation support for U.S. forces in fiscal 2016 and beyond, citing Japan’s worsening fiscal conditions and an expected rise in defense spending under the new national security laws enacted last month.

At a meeting Monday of a subcommittee of its Fiscal System Council, the ministry proposed that Japan stop shouldering labor costs for staff in entertainment facilities on U.S. bases and that the U.S. instead pay these workers with revenue from the facilities.

The employees include golf course staff, tour guides, operators of leisure boats and bartenders.

The ministry believes Japan would be able to save about ¥15 billion a year if the U.S. were to bear all of the labor costs.

As part of its host-nation support, Japan’s share of costs for the maintenance and repairs of U.S. military facilities is set at ¥20.6 billion or more per year. The ministry said the practice of setting the annual amount in advance should be stopped.

In addition, the ministry called for no longer paying utility bills for U.S. military housing. The total for Japan comes to nearly ¥25 billion a year.

Defense spending is expected to top ¥5 trillion for fiscal 2016. Host-nation support totaled ¥189.9 billion in fiscal 2015.

The Foreign and Defense ministries will be holding negotiations with the U.S. on the amount of host-nation support for fiscal 2016 and later by the end of this year.

Also discussed at Monday’s Fiscal System Council meeting was education spending.

To promote national universities’ financial independence, the Finance Ministry proposed plans to increase their own annual revenues by 1.6 percent every year while cutting subsidies to help cover running costs by 1.0 percent.

The ministry said the maximum number of teachers at public elementary and junior high schools across Japan can be reduced by about 37,000 by fiscal 2024 on the back of the falling number of children while maintaining the current educational environment.