• Kyodo

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The United States called on Japan Wednesday to increase spending for hosting military bases and personnel, noting the importance of bilateral security relations.

“Japan should increase its overall defense expenditures and host-nation support funding levels as a proportion of the defense budget to demonstrate its commitment to Japan’s defense and regional peace and security,” a senior State Department official said on condition of anonymity.

“Any further reduction sends the wrong signal to the region about the direction of the bilateral security relationship,” he added.

The officials comments came as the U.S. government released a statement stressing the importance of Japan’s financial contribution in the security alliance.

“Host-nation support is Japan’s direct contribution to the alliance which provides a deterrent to threats in the region such as that posed by North Korea,” the statement said.

The Japan-U.S. security alliance is “an asymmetric but complementary relationship,” the statement said, adding that Japan provides basing and host-nation support funding, while the United States provides military manpower and capabilities.

The United States is apparently aiming to pressure Japan not to slash its outlays to cover U.S. military-related expenses. The two countries are expected to step up negotiations because the bilateral accord that gives legal backing to the Japanese government for a large part of such spending will expire in March.

Tokyo has been cutting the budget for host-nation support, which covers such costs as utility charges at the bases and salaries for Japanese workers there.

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