WASHINGTON – U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump on Wednesday called on Japan to drastically increase its financial contribution to maintain the American military facilities it hosts under a 1960 security treaty.
“Of course they should pick up all the expense. Why are we paying for this?” Trump, the front-runner in the Republican Party nomination race, said in an interview with CNN, referring to Japan, South Korea and other countries where the United States plays a role in defense.
Japan earmarked ¥189.9 billion ($1.7 billion) to host U.S. military bases in Japan in fiscal 2015 through March 31 as part of the costs necessary to station nearly 50,000 U.S. personnel here.
“A lot of people like to say, ‘Oh, Trump wants Japan to arm.’ I don’t want them to arm. I want them to reimburse us for at least the cost,” Trump, a 69-year-old businessman, said.
Trump became the sole candidate in the nomination race after Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the last contender, said Wednesday he has suspended his campaign.
“I have great relationships with Japan,” Trump said.
But he added: “We cannot go around subsidizing Japan, which is a behemoth economically with the cars and everything” as the United States is a debtor nation.
Trump said earlier that if elected president he will consider withdrawing military forces from Japan, complaining that Tokyo shoulders too little of the burden to host U.S. forces. He also indicated Japan and South Korea could go nuclear for self-defense as a result.
“If they don’t take care of us properly, if they don’t respect us enough to take care of us properly, then you know what’s going to have to happen … It’s very simple. They’re going to have to defend themselves,” he said in the CNN interview.
Japan’s defense capability is much more restricted than that of the United States under its war-renouncing Constitution.