YAMAGUCHI – Republican Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election on Tuesday is unlikely to affect the deployment of U.S. military forces in Japan, the commander of U.S. Forces Japan said Thursday.
“I have full confidence that the forces that are here in Japan will remain as strong as they’ve ever been,” Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez said in a news conference at a U.S. military base in the Yamaguchi Prefecture, where part of a bilateral field training exercise between the U.S. military and the Self-Defense Forces was being conducted.
Attention is growing in Japan on how the bilateral alliance will be influenced under the presidency of Trump, who has called for Japan and other U.S. allies to pay more of the cost of stationing U.S. forces here and has even threatened to pull troops out of the countries unless they do so.
The U.S. commander, however, assured that Japan “will see absolutely no degradation in the alliance and the friendship” between the two countries. “I have full confidence that alliance will stay as strong as ever,” he added.
Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, Japan’s top uniformed officer, also attended the news conference. He said he cannot predict what security policies Trump will actually pursue but he believes the two countries share a “common awareness on the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance.”
U.S. Forces Japan is headquartered at the Yokota Air Base in the western suburbs of Tokyo. Some 50,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Japan.
The U.S. military forces and SDF members began an exercise called Keen Sword on Oct. 30 in areas including Japan and Guam. The exercise is aimed at increasing combat readiness and interoperability within the framework of the U.S.-Japan alliance. The exercise is scheduled to end Friday.
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