LONDON/TOKYO – Japan’s financial support for U.S. forces stationed in the country is at an “appropriate” level under a bilateral agreement, the nation’s top government spokesman said Wednesday, after remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump that it should be increased.
Tokyo earmarked about ¥197.4 billion ($1.8 billion) in the current fiscal year through March for what is known as “host-nation” support, which covers costs for base workers, utilities and other items. As the current five-year payment agreement is set to expire at the end of March 2021, new negotiations are expected to be in full swing next spring.
“We have been sharing the cost of stationing U.S. forces in Japan appropriately based on the existing bilateral agreement,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference.
He declined to comment on remarks by Trump a day earlier that he had asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to pay more.
“I’ve asked Japan. I said to Prime Minister Abe, a friend of mine, Shinzo. I said, ‘You have to help us out here. We’re paying a lot of money. You’re a wealthy nation. And we’re, you know, paying for your military, essentially,” Trump said in London, where he is attending a NATO summit.
Trump, who suggested Japan was a free-rider on security during his 2016 presidential campaign, told reporters that Abe “is gonna do a lot” regarding his request.
U.S. allies such as Japan have “never been asked” to increase their financial contributions to support U.S. troops on their countries, but “now, they’re being asked,” Trump said.
Under the Japan-U.S. security treaty, about 50,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Japan, with the nation serving as a hub for forward-deployed U.S. forces.
Japanese government sources acknowledged last month that the United States had asked Tokyo to make financial contributions of about five times the current level per year.
The request was delivered by John Bolton, then-national security adviser to Trump, when he visited Japan in July for talks with top officials, but the request was rejected, according to the sources.