KYODO NEWS – Mar 31, 2021 – 13:29
Japan’s parliament approved Wednesday an agreement that leaves Tokyo’s share of costs to host U.S. forces largely unchanged for fiscal 2021 in an extension of an expiring five-year deal.
With the passage of the accord to extend the deal for one year, Japan will shoulder 201.7 billion yen ($1.83 billion) in the year starting next April in so-called host nation support, around the same level as the previous year.
The spending covers some of the expenses for the approximately 55,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan.
The five-year deal was set to expire on Wednesday and the extension became unavoidable as bilateral cost-sharing talks were affected by the transition of power in Washington and the coronavirus pandemic that restricted negotiators’ ability to travel.
Japan and the United States are now set for negotiations for a new multiyear agreement covering fiscal 2022 and onward.
Tokyo is wary of potential pressure from Washington to contribute more financially amid the rising challenges posed by China and North Korea.
The deal for fiscal 2021, signed by Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and charge d’affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo Joseph Young on Feb. 24, was approved by the lower house on March 23.
In negotiations leading up to the latest deal for fiscal 2021, Japan had sought to maintain the current cost level due to the nation’s strained finances.
In addition to the issue of cost-sharing, the next round of talks between Japan and the United States is expected to explore their mutual responsibilities in strengthening the alliance, including in new defense fields such as space and cybersecurity.
Under the host nation support arrangement, which began in fiscal 1978 as part of a bilateral security treaty, Tokyo shoulders costs including the U.S. military’s utilities, labor and training expenses.
South Korea, another key U.S. ally in Asia, said in March it has agreed to increase its share of costs for hosting U.S. troops by 13.9 percent this year from 2019 to a total of 1.18 trillion won ($1.04 billion).