The United States has agreed to Japan slightly reducing its burden-sharing costs for maintaining U.S. military facilities in the country over three years starting in April — after the current two-year accord expires in March. In the talks, Japan sought a substantial cut due to its massive national debt, but the U.S. strongly opposed that because of the huge costs run up by its war in Iraq and its antiterrorism operations in Afghanistan. The agreement underscores both governments’ efforts to avoid a fissure in bilateral security ties.

The talks concerned items under the Special Measures Agreement, which were worth ¥140.9 billion in fiscal 2007, including ¥25.3 billion for heating, lighting and water costs. These utility costs in fiscal 2008 will remain the same as in fiscal 2007 but will decrease by ¥400 million in fiscal 2009 and 2010, for a ¥800 million total cut. Basic pay for Japanese base workers and training-transfer costs will stay at ¥115 billion and ¥500 million, respectively, each year.

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