TOKYO (Reuters) – US President Donald Trump has called on Japan to quadruple annual payments to its US-based forces at around $ 8 billion. This is part of Washington's efforts to urge its allies to increase their defense spending.
FILE PHOTO: US President Donald Trump travels from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, USA, to Louisiana on November 14, 2019. REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst
The current agreement covering 54,000 US troops stationed in Japan expires in March 2021.
The request was made to Japanese officials during a trip to the region in July by John Bolton, then National Security Advisor to Trump, and Matt Pottinger, the then Asia director of the National Security Council, told US Global Affairs Magazine Appealing to unidentified former US officials.
A Japanese foreign minister said the report was wrong and that there had been no negotiations between the US and Japan for a new agreement.
According to the Kyodo news agency, Japanese officials told Bolton that the increase was "unrealistic" as Japan already paid a higher percentage of stationing costs than other allies.
A US State Department spokesman said in an e-mail, "The President has made it clear that allies and partners should do more to defend their common defense."
Negotiations to renew the agreement begin in the first half of Next year the spokesman added that the US commitment to the Japanese defense is "unshakeable."
Japan hosts the US Navy's Seventh Fleet, including the only permanent forward carrier strike group, and the Third Marine Expeditionary Force.
In addition to defending Japan, these units use the archipelago as a base for operations in the Asia-Pacific region, where US military power acts as a counterweight to China's growing influence.
Trump has also insisted that Seoul bore a larger share of the cost of the US military presence in South Korea, where it serves as a deterrent to North Korea, and put into action the idea of withdrawing US troops from the peninsula.
Reporting by Sam Nussey; Additional coverage by Tim Kelly; Edited by Jacqueline Wong and Edwina Gibbs