politics

Japan, U.S. start talks on cost of hosting American troops

48 Comments

Japan and the United States launched working-level negotiations Thursday on a cost-sharing agreement for hosting American troops in the Asian country, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

The first round of the talks held via videoconference, with foreign and defense officials of the two countries taking part, is expected to wrap up on Friday.

Japan and the United States need to renegotiate Tokyo's budget for hosting the U.S. military in the five years from April 2021 in place of the current deal, which expires in March.

With the U.S. presidential election only a few weeks away and Japan's drafting of its initial budget for fiscal 2021 planned to be finished by the end of December, the two countries may opt to sign a tentative one-year deal instead of the usual five-year arrangement, according to the source.

In any case, the real negotiations are expected to begin after the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Incumbent Republican President Donald Trump, who is trailing Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in opinion polls, has pressured Tokyo to significantly increase its contribution.

Around 54,000 American troops are stationed in Japan under a decades-old security treaty, enabling them to respond to contingencies in a region where China is increasing its military clout and North Korea is developing nuclear-armed ballistic missiles.

The troops are obligated to protect Japan from threats together with the country's Self-Defense Forces, and in return Tokyo shoulders nearly 200 billion yen ($1.9 billion) annually in on-base utility fees, civilian labor costs and expenses related to relocating military drills.

Trump has criticized the alliance as one-sided, saying in June 2019 that "if Japan is attacked, we will fight World War III...but if we're attacked, Japan doesn't have to help us at all. They can watch it on a Sony television."

According to a book by John Bolton, Trump's former national security adviser, published earlier this year, the U.S. president has asked Japan to quadruple its contribution to $8 billion annually.

That would largely be in line with U.S. negotiations with South Korea in which Washington has demanded a more than fivefold increase in host nation support. They have yet to conclude the talks even after the previous agreement expired at the end of last year.

Faced with rising social security costs and saddled with the worst fiscal health among major economies, Japan has said it is already paying an appropriate amount and hopes to avoid swallowing such a U.S. demand.

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48 Comments
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American troops go home!

-2 ( +11 / -13 )

We have to wait and see the result of presidential race.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Trump understands leverage.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Always start your bid really low.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@quercetum

"Trump understands leverage."

Okay, here goes:

"Trump has criticized the alliance as one-sided, saying in June 2019 that "if Japan is attacked, we will fight World War III...but if we're attacked, Japan doesn't have to help us at all. They can watch it on a Sony television.""

Trump doesn't understand anything. Not Article 9, not the SOFA, not the alliance, not the price tag or who pays what.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

GOJ had better sit this one out until the new administration takes office. Asinine to commit to quadruple. Who in the hell asks for, and who commits to a quadruple increase? Would anyone reading this pay quadruple for their iPhone?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Already paying too much.

The student protesters of the 1950's and 60's were correct.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

I am all for sending the troops home then all the whiners and people who cherry pick crime statistics or point fingers when any transgression happens can shut the bleep up. If that does happen, one thing that won't is that money Japan didn't use on supporting the troops won't be going to support Okinawa or any of the places that had bases. You heard it here first.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Many Americans think why U.S. has to defend Japan while Japan does not have duty to help U.S. That makes a sense in a way. U.S. troops may be withdrawing from Japan gradually. On the other hand, Japan is a big country and the most reliable and friendly allied nation to U.S. If U.S. troops withdraw from Japan, U.S. will lose stakes in this part of the world and China will dominate. Democrats may not care about it very much as Obama was so. For them businesses with China is more important.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Japan needs the US military presence to multiply their defense capabilities and provide it with the US Nuclear deterrent and likewise the United States needs Japan as the only reliable forward strategic base for Asian operations. Obviously both parties will come to a mutually satisfactory agreement.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Trump understands leverage.

And in 3 weeks, he will have zero. I can hear it now, "It isn't my fault."

Trump has some psychological flaws. One being that if he says it enough and really, really, really, believes something (with a cherry on top), then it will be true. For things that don't matter, like "I want a new couch", that's fine. Not so good when 200K Americans are dead or 50+K troops are involved.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

$8 billion? That is madness! Japan should tell the Yanks to either stick with the original figure, or get out of Japan!

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Tell us how much you want to pay, and we'll tell you how many troops you can have...

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

From 6 to 9 minutes. That’s how long the first wave of missiles from China would take to hit Japan. The 1000+ land attack cruise missiles the PLA have could very quickly cripple American front-line forces. The US forces aren’t here to protect Japan, that’s an impossible task. The US forces are here so they don’t lose a good foothold in Asia. I think the defence of the Japanese people is incredibly low on the USFJ's objectives; maintaining superiority and a staging place in Asia. The Japanese government should counter Trump by asking for rent.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

So Japan is giving out land and paying the US... for the US to have a strategic advantage halfway across the world. In return, they get absolutely nothing in practical terms. Amazing deal... for the US.

Seems to me like the US should be paying Japan for installing military bases on their land land and for the privilege of being able to project power in Asia, not the other way around. Alternatively, go home.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Japan and the Japanese people are just fodder for any future conflict between the US and China.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Today 09:27 am JST

From 6 to 9 minutes. That’s how long the first wave of missiles from China would take to hit Japan.

Maybe, but don't you think China knows what would happen to them 6 minutes after that? It's called a deterrent.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@Otacon

If it really was such a bad deal for Japan, don't you think they might know that?

They are a sovereign nation, and can ask the US to leave at any time.

All of you claiming the security pact is bad for Japan are obviously a lot smarter than Japan's leaders. Maybe you should be in charge.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

... and in return Tokyo shoulders nearly 200 billion yen ($1.9 billion) annually in on-base utility fees, civilian labor costs and expenses related to relocating military drills.

Some posters here consider the lands on which U.S. bases sit in Okinawa are war spoils whereby the U.S. has every right to demand replacements be provided if we want bases like USMC Air Station Futenma or U.S. Army Naha Port Facility to be returned.

On paper, the lands are indeed not spoils of war at all; but they're only leased to the U.S. under provisions stipulated in the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

But the U.S. forces are using these base lands as if they were spoils of war that had been won in 1945, with their service members fully guaranteed extraterritorial rights on-base and, maybe, off-base.

Isn't it ironical then that Japan must shoulder "200 billion yen ($1.9 billion) annually in on-base utility fees, civilian labor costs and expenses related to relocating military drills"? Not only that, the Trump administration is also mulling to quadruple Japan's share of the base maintenance cost. In a way, that money may be taken as war reparations  A tragi-comedy indeed.

To call it “host-nation support” is a sham.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Maybe, but don't you think China knows what would happen to them 6 minutes after that? It's called a deterrent.

That's why China has a deterrent also

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Freddy FreewayToday  07:03 am JST

American troops go home!

careful what you wish for.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

The USA just want a foothold in the region who are they kidding that they are doing Japan a big favor please.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

No one complained about previous US presidents. Now suddenly everything is Trump’s fault. ( No, I’m not a fan of Trump. Just pointing out a fact.)

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

No one complained about previous US presidents. Now suddenly everything is Trump’s fault. ( No, I’m not a fan of Trump. Just pointing out a fact.)

This is clearly joshing about.

Presumably you remember the Obama years, when everything was his fault - including where he was or wasn't born?

Or going back further to Nixon, when everything wasn't his fault, no sir, "I'm not a crook" etc, ad nauseum.

There isn't a single PotUS in history that hasn't been blamed for everything under the sun.

But there's not been one like Trump - and if he really wants to save money, he could do worse than end the US military in Japan.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

American troops in Japan only serve their own interest and Japan are paying too much for them. It is time Japan to stand firm and neglect their never-ending demands

0 ( +6 / -6 )

How about they will go back home?

Their country is on verge of civil war and sure-these professionals will be more needed there.

So how about to discuss about zero cost?

If no foreign boots on the ground here-it should be 0?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

If Japan pays the US 200 billion yen for the 'privilege' of having US bases on Japanese soil (along with drunken military types harassing local populations, pollution from all kinds of unspeakable weaponry and chemicals, and military aircraft crashing onto civilian areas), then the US should be charged 300 billion yen rent for the use of the prime land the bases occupy. Plus extra for every drunken GI causing a nuisance/committing a crime and every aircraft that falls from the sky or drops stuff onto schoolchildren. And take your filthy chemicals home.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200619/p2a/00m/0na/020000c

https://thediplomat.com/2020/10/us-military-bases-are-poisoning-okinawa/

https://apjjf.org/-Yokemoto-Masafumi/3185/article.html

1 ( +7 / -6 )

From 6 to 9 minutes. That’s how long the first wave of missiles from China would take to hit Japan. The 1000+ land attack cruise missiles the PLA have could very quickly cripple American front-line forces.

Yes we know it was the Chinese missiles which devastated Iraq...oh wait...

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

American troops in Japan only serve their own interest and Japan are paying too much for them. It is time Japan to stand firm and neglect their never-ending demands

Not true. Japan gets the blood of Americans should any conflict break out. That means quick action from the voters back in the USA. The more blood spilled, the more outrage against the aggressor will happen. This is a win-win policy for politicians in both countries.

Those politicians get to complain about the high costs both in money and humans.

They get to train together, which is good for both countries. Because there are so many military people who get stationed in Japan, most will come away with a greater knowledge of the region and likely Japanese people. The more familiar we are with each other, the less friction there is for both - yes, I get that it doesn't always work out that way. I think that most Americans have a favorable view of Japan and Japanese these days. Much higher than Koreans, Chinese or even Taiwanese people.

Japan is known in the world for being pacifist. That's good for Russia and China, who clearly have their eyes on some islands. If the US leaves, how long before those islands have Russian or Chinese people living on them? Or will another strongly worded diplomatic letter be sent?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Otacon512Today 09:36 am JST

Ah, but what if the Chinese do attack. Basically, the payouts and other concessions for the American troops are insurance money. The alternative (similar to those who choose not to pay insurance) is that should the war come they'll have to fight it using only what's in their hand.

Japan is in a weak position to negotiate because of strategic factors. Let's face it, Europe put together is stronger than Russia. The same is not true for Japan v China. They need the US to an extent Europe does not, and the whole pacifism thing prevents exploration of alternatives (albeit expensive ones).

Basically, the Japanese have three options:

1) Pay the Americans.

2) Spend something like 5x the present amount to build up indigenous capabilities.

3) Accept the Chinese as suzerain.

Of which 1 seems the least painful...

0 ( +5 / -5 )

So about 6 minutes after the last US Marine leaves Japan the Chinese over run Japan, is that what you idiots are wanting?

China is already telling its citizens to prepare for war, every thought, every action by every person is now towards preparing for war, china has been baiting, asking, pushing for it for about 2 decades or more and starting recently to get louder.

Even with the US military here the Chinese will not be deterred.

So take your anti american anti japanese attitudes back to where ever it was you came from and turn on your tv, you can watch the unfolding developments from the comfort of you own crumbling homeland.

Japan needs the U.S. here , the U.S. needs to be here, and the WORLD needs the U.S. to be here.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

So about 6 minutes after the last US Marine leaves Japan the Chinese over run Japan, is that what you idiots are wanting?

Straw men argument. And one that has been used by colonizers and their proponents for a millennia. You can't survive on your own, independence will weaken you, your country will suffer dire consequences - financial, internal strife, other invaders etc etc.

American independence would never have come about if these arguments were paid heed to.

So take your anti american anti japanese attitudes back to where ever it was you came from and turn on your tv, you can watch the unfolding developments from the comfort of you own crumbling homeland.

I'll stay, thanks. I love living here, but that doesn't mean I have to support US military remaining here. Nothing anti-American or anti-Japanese about that. The majority of Americans here are sound, intelligent and decent people. The US military is a separate entity from the American people who live, love and work here.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Bases have been here and in many countries through out the world long before China had been a threat they've been saying it is.

It's not about protecting Japan from China, never was.

It was about power projection, forward deployment.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

There is a very easy answer here. Just hear me out for a second.

Non nuclear countries.- Face threats.

Nuclear armed countries- Not so much.

Japan should be commended for its non nuclear stance for so long, After all what has happened here.

Nagasaki and Hiroshima. So heart breaking.

But try to imagine a nuclear armed Japan for one moment. Nuclear deterrent is the best defense package in the world.

I would bet. That if Japan had nuclear missiles on its soil. In these mountains in this great country. We would see less Chinese/Russia/DPRK Encroachments-Threats in and on Japan.

We could even look on specific statistic.

What I know to be fact and not fiction.

Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) fighter jets scrambled fighter jets 675 times to intercept Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force (PLANAF) aircraft between April 1, 2019 and March 31 2020, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Tokyo announced on April 9.

That is 675 times.

I m curious if Japan were a nuclear, Would these troops be needed here? Would any of this be necessary?

Its just some food for thought. What do I know. Selling the Japanese on nuclear war heads, well That's another story. It will not happen in my life time.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

They don't want Japan and other countries to have nuclear weapons.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Trump understands leverage.

And in 3 weeks, he will have zero. I can hear it now, "It isn't my fault."

As many of you have stated, Japan needs the US to counterbalance China. Trump knows that. Japan is in a weak position to negotiate because of strategic factors. Trump understands leverage.

So about 6 minutes after the last US Marine leaves Japan the Chinese over run Japan, is that what you idiots are wanting?

Melodramatic. It's about money. Both sides will be able to spend less on defense and concentrate more the economy. China wants to further trade and make money. It doesn't want Japan's main islands. The senkaku's are because of the resources beneath the sea.

Their country is on verge of civil war and sure-these professionals will be more needed there.

I agree. If there is a Civil War in the US, it will have been caused by Trump. For Sumter is not unthinkable. One nation under God, indivisible, with justice and liberty for all is only a motto.

American troops in Japan only serve their own interest and Japan are paying too much for them.

Paying for the US troops to be stationed in Japan is akin to paying rent for house. You'll never own. Japan needs to have its own military.

The unwarranted assumption is that with its own military, Japan will not need the US. Not true at all. With her own military Japan will be stronger and together with the US, the two will constantly keep China in check.

The US troops are still stationed South Korea and can keep its presence in Asia. For those who believe Japan needs to be stronger and independent 独立自尊, thanking the US for the work over the decades is the way to go. Bow deeply and say Osewa ni narimashita.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Well considering that the USA is the only country on the planet that dropped nuclear bombs on civilian cities they act very self righteous.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

America should pay the going market rental price, for not just land but to use our airspace.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

This is like having a gun-toting neighbor pitch a tent on your lawn and backyard, and being asked to pay a fee for his daily expenditures and for keeping your house safe. Would seem like a good deal but I think that Japan can probably look after its own and I believe that America is more than willing to stay here even if it doesn't get paid by Tokyo, but wouldn't turn down an opportunity to collect some protection fee.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I can never understand this move.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yes we know it was the Chinese missiles which devastated Iraq...oh wait...

Iraq invaded a neighbor. Seems a little remembered fact by CCP-Chinese and the 五毛 crew.

China prefers a more subtle methods to take over other countries. They aren't dumb. Take a meter more every month and in a few hundred years, they have all they wanted. Just like placing lobsters in cold water with a flame underneath. The lobsters don't notice until it is too late.

China has fantastic histories with Tibet, Taiwan, Uighurs, non-Han Chinese in China. Clearly, models for how every country should treat people they believe to be citizens. /s

Macau and Hong Kong clearly don't want Chinese rule. They were forced into the prior agreement which was mostly fine until CCP-Chinese decided that wasn't sufficient. Can't have citizens speaking freely or actually ruling themselves. Freedom like that cannot be allowed.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why not send the US troops in Japan to The Philippines or South Korea and let them pay? Or build bases in Vietnam? Oh, wait...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

American troops go home!

Until China makes military moves around Taiwan, Senkaku Islands and Okinawa. Then you'll all be crying, "Americans come back! We need you!"

Just like the Philippines regretted kicking out the Amreicans, you'll wish the Americans didn't pack up their umbrella protection and moved elsewhere.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

These funds are plowed back into the Japanese economy. The utility payments for the Americans go back to Japanese utility companies. The salaries for base workers go to Japanese (approximately 99 percent are Japanese) and they serve as another type of coveted government employment in the depressed areas around the bases. The construction projects (a large portion of this budget is for buildings and roads) employ Japanese contractors (usually LDP supporters) and construction workers. Very little is actually lost. So these funds, whether 200 billion yen or 800 billion yen*, will remain in Japan and be no different than any other central government outlays. But the Japanese government buys the protection of one of the world's premier military forces.

*I am skeptical about whether the US military could burn through 800 billion yen per year under these conditions. Employ more Japanese workers? (they presumably have what they need) Build more buildings? (they will run out of space) Use more electricity and water? (even if they are wasteful, it is hard to imagine a 4x increase) Well, maybe they could replace every building with a new building to get there...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan pays 200 billion yen ($1.9 billion) annually to support the U.S. military presence in Japan. The money is popularly known as "sympathy budget" in Japan while it's called "host nation support" by the U.S. side. I would rather call the money "war reparations". 

Serious talks to decide on an amount of the payment for the next five years are said to start after the November presidential election. If Trump were still in office, he would demand Japan's payment be quadrupled, as already indicated by his former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

But no worry. Throwing a bombshell first and coming down to a lucrative conclusion as if he had conceded much for the sake of the other side is a business dealing à la Trump. 

U.S. negotiators may be thinking they won the talks if the current amount of 200 billion yen ($1.9 billion) were to be maintained.

Let’s see how Japanese bureaucrats under Suga will deal with their one better U.S. counterparts.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sal Affit,

These funds are plowed back into the Japanese economy.

Suppose Toyota USA, Nissan USA, Sony USA, Honda USA asked the U.S. government to shoulder payments to their American employees for them, would you be glad to accept it, saying the money is plowed back to U.S. economy anyway?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Halwick,

Just like the Philippines regretted kicking out the Americans, you'll wish the Americans didn't pack up their umbrella protection and moved elsewhere

Are the Philippines regretted about not extending a treaty in 1991 for the U.S. military to continue their presence? If they were, they could easily turn the Subic Bay into a colossal U.S. Navy bastion once again, or restore Clark Air Base for exclusive use by U.S. Air Force.

Yes, U.S. Air Force returned to Clark in 2012, but I think they aren’t using it like before, as if it belonged to the U.S.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Total cost of maintaining all American overseas bases is about $20-$25 billion from a defense budget of about $700 billion. If those base were shuttered and troop returned home, the savings would be minimal.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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