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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 May 27 - June 2  > Abe should stop submissively buying US-made weapons and spend more for coronavirus countermeasures
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2020 May 27 - June 2 [POLITICS]

Abe should stop submissively buying US-made weapons and spend more for coronavirus countermeasures

May 27, 2020
Despite a mounting public call for more government measures to tackle the coronavirus-induced economic crisis, the Abe government shows no intent to withdraw funding for a massive purchase of U.S.-made weapons and for providing financial support for the U.S. forces stationed in Japan.

The following four items regarding the purchase of a large amount of weapons from the U.S. and the construction of a new U.S. base in Okinawa under Washington's thumb are, in particular, non-urgent:

- a total of six trillion yen to buy F-35 fighters which are said to have been discredited on their efficacy in the U.S.;
- over one trillion yen to introduce U.S.-made ground-based missile defense systems without candidate sites for their deployment;
- a total of 2.5 trillion yen to construct a new U.S. base in Okinawa’s Henoko district which has no prospect of completion; and
- one trillion yen for the so-called “sympathy budget” which is not a requirement in the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

The Abe government in the 2020 budget plans to use 107.4 billion yen for the purchase of F-35 fighter jets as PM Abe in 2018 promised to buy 105 F-35s after giving in to pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump. Japan’s Defense Ministry estimates that the price for one F-35 is around 12-13 billion yen. In addition, a huge amount of money is needed to operate and maintain the F-35. If Japan is to have a total of 147 F-35s, which includes the existing 42 units, it will have to spend more than six trillion yen for the operation and maintenance costs in 30 years.

The plan to introduce “Aegis Ashore” ground-based anti-ballistic missile defense systems is also a result of Abe’s subservience to the Trump administration. As one interceptor missile costs 4-5 billion, the total cost for the introduction is expected to surpass one trillion yen.

Furthermore, the Abe government is pushing forward with the U.S. base construction in Okinawa’s Henoko district. The Defense Ministry increased the estimated construction cost to 930 billion yen, 2.7 times larger than the initial estimate, because a soft, unstable seafloor was found to exist at the planned construction site. According to another estimate by the Okinawa prefectural government, the construction work will cost 2.6 trillion yen.

Under the current Japan-U.S. special agreement on the stationing costs of the U.S. forces in Japan, the Japanese government provides financial aid of 946.5 billion yen to the U.S. military over five years. The current agreement will expire in March 2021 and the two parties will start a renewal negotiation this fall. It is reported that the U.S. intends to urge Japan to increase its support level by four times. In the first place, Japan has no obligation to shoulder the stationing costs of U.S. troops under the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement. The Abe government should refuse the Trump administration’s demand for more money.

Past related articles:
> Government should divert tax money from military to anti-coronavirus measures [ May 12, 2020]
> Abe gov’t prioritizes US base project in Henoko over anti-corona efforts [ April 22, 2020]
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