• Kyodo

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Japan and the United States have broadly agreed to extend the current deal covering Tokyo's costs for hosting American troops for another year, Japanese government sources said Wednesday.

Under the preliminary agreement, Japan will shoulder roughly ¥200 billion in fiscal 2021 for host nation support, around the same level as last year, the sources said. A formal accord is expected to be reached soon.

Talks on cost-sharing for fiscal 2022 and onward will resume in April or later, they said.

The current five-year deal will expire next month.

Under a bilateral security treaty, Tokyo shoulders part of the cost of stationing around 55,000 U.S. military personnel in Japan, including their utility, labor and training expenses.

Japan had tentatively earmarked ¥201.7 billion in its budget for fiscal 2021, about the same amount as the previous year.

Working-level talks on a fresh agreement began in November under then-U.S. President Donald Trump, who had criticized the alliance as one-sided. Trump pressured Tokyo to vastly increase its burden, but the talks were put on hold until President Joe Biden was inaugurated in January.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, in his first telephone talks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in late January, put forward the idea of a temporary extension. The plan was proposed by Tokyo during working-level talks, which resumed on Feb. 2 under Biden.

In the cost-sharing talks for fiscal 2022 and onward, Japan and the United States are set to discuss their mutual roles in strengthening the alliance, including in new defense fields such as space and cybersecurity.

With the U.S. president intent on collaborating with allies to counter China's military rise, the Biden administration may ask Japan to contribute more financially.

Such bilateral cost-sharing negotiations are conducted roughly every five years and are usually concluded by December of the final year of the agreement to help Japan compile its budget.

But the latest round was slowed down by the transition from Trump to Biden and the pandemic, which restricted reciprocal travel by negotiators.

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