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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 June 26 - July 2  > Trump’s remark about withdrawal from US-Japan Security Treaty confuses Abe gov’t
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2019 June 26 - July 2 [POLITICS]

Trump’s remark about withdrawal from US-Japan Security Treaty confuses Abe gov’t

June 27, 2019
The U.S news agency Bloomberg News on June 25 reported that U.S. President Donald Trump told his close aides that he is considering terminating the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, sending shock waves through political circles in Japan.

The Japanese government usually refrains from making comments on news reports dealing with Trump’s remarks. However, this time, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide held a press conference on June 25 and flatly denied the accuracy of the Bloomberg report, stressing that in response to the Japanese government’s inquiry, the U.S. government confirmed that the report is not in agreement with the U.S. position. This rare move reflects Tokyo’s sense of crisis, with the Abe government firmly believing that the Japan-U.S. alliance is vital for Japan’s security.

The recently-reported remarks by Trump are in line with his view on U.S.-Japan relations. Trump has long claimed that the U.S. is troubled by a trade deficit with Japan, but it has the one-sided obligation to defend Japan under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Trump called the treaty unfair and said that Japan should pay all the stationing costs of U.S. troops in Japan or the U.S. may need to consider withdrawing the U.S. military from Japan.

Given these facts, his real purpose is not to abrogate the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty but to use the threat of abrogation as a bargaining chip in bilateral trade talks he aims to finalize after Japan's Upper House election in order to win concessions by Japan. By doing so, Trump may press Japan to buy more U.S.-made weapons and further shoulder the U.S. military's stationing costs. It is like a threat: If you don't want me to abandon the Japan-U.S. alliance, comply with my demands.

However, the actual Japan-U.S. alliance is not "unfair" at all for the United States. It is the most advantageous treaty for the U.S. compared to other U.S. military allies.

Japan already bears more than 70% of the stationing costs of U.S. forces in Japan. Unlike in European countries, the USFJ has the right to freely operate in this country under the unequal status of forces agreement with Japan. What is more, global-scale expeditionary units, which are unrelated to "the defense of Japan", make up most of the USFJ, forming a vital part of the U.S. military strategy.

Normally, it should be Japan that makes a demand on the United States, "If you don't want to accept our demands, we will abrogate the treaty based on Article 10 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty."

The threat "we will end the alliance", however, looks very effective in regard to the Abe government. Probably, President Trump knows that PM Abe does not have the wisdom to free Japan from its subservient position vis a vis the United States.
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