US, Japan Agree to Renew Deal to Host US Troops

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
December 23, 2021 Updated: December 23, 2021

Japan’s government said it has agreed to increase its financial support to $1.8 billion per year through 2026 to continue hosting tens of thousands of U.S. troops under a new five-year agreement starting in fiscal 2022.

The previous agreement, signed in 2016, that covers the 54,000 U.S. troops stationed in Japan expired in March 2021. The United States and Japan then signed a one-year extension in February amid the transition between the Trump and Biden administrations.

Under the latest deal, Tokyo will pay 1.05 trillion yen ($9.2 billion) through 2026 to host American troops and their families—up 75 billion yen ($657 million) from the previous deal, Kyodo News reported.

“Bilateral defense cooperation under Host Nation Support will contribute to the enhancement of readiness and resiliency of the Alliance, including by improving the interoperability of U.S. forces and the Self-Defense Forces of Japan,” Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The payments also cover utility costs and the salaries of Japanese staff at U.S. military bases.

Former President Donald Trump in 2019 reportedly sought to ask Japan to hike up annual payments for U.S. forces stationed in the country, as part of Washington’s efforts to press its allies to increase their defense spending.

According to Kyodo, Japanese officials told John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser at the time, that the increase was “unrealistic,” saying Japan already pays a greater share of stationing costs than other allies.

The southernmost prefecture of Okinawa hosts 70 percent of U.S. military facilities in Japan. The United States is obligated to defend Japan under a 1951 security treaty.

The new agreement is set to be signed during a meeting between Japan and the United States in January, The Japan Times reported.

According to The Hill, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Japanese counterpart will meet on Jan. 7.

A source familiar with the January meeting told the news outlet that Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, and Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, are expected to meet for the first time since March.

The Epoch Times has contacted the State Department for comment.

The renewal of the deal comes amid growing concern over Chinese military assertiveness in the Pacific region, especially in the South China Sea, the Taiwan Straits, and the East China Sea.

“We could show our resolution to stand up to the challenge posed by the difficult security environment together,” Kishi told a press briefing as he announced the agreement.

A State Department spokesman told The Hill that the proposed agreement between Japan and the United States “represents a modernized, forward-looking framework under which U.S. forces in Japan help ensure security and regional stability.”

The spokesman added: “It promotes greater mutual investment in defense and improvements to our forces’ interoperability. It includes an increase in cost-sharing contributions from Japan.”

Additional details of the proposal “will be released after the agreement is concluded,” the spokesman added.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.