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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 December 22 - 2022 January 4  > Japan will pay over 1 trillion yen over next 5 years to give ‘sympathetic’ financial support for US military in Japan
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2021 December 22 - 2022 January 4 [POLITICS]

Japan will pay over 1 trillion yen over next 5 years to give ‘sympathetic’ financial support for US military in Japan

December 22, 2021

The Japanese government on December 21 agreed with the U.S. government demand that over the next five years from FY2022, Japan spend about 1.1 trillion yen under the so-called “sympathy budget” for the U.S. forces in Japan. The annual amount will increase by 10 billion yen to about 211 billion yen from the current level.

In addition, Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa at a press conference on the day said that the government will stop using the current term “sympathy budget” to refer to Japan’s share in the cost for the stationing of the U.S. military in Japan and will call it the “budget to enhance resilience of the bilateral alliance”. The reason for this is that the government intends to avoid facing public criticism that Japan gives extraordinarily generous financial support to the U.S. forces in Japan. However, in the first place, Japan has no obligation to pay such an enormous amount of money under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

The SOFA’s Article 24 states that the United States is required to pay for the stationing of their forces in Japan other than for land rent and remedial expenses.

In 1978, however, pressed by the U.S., the Japanese government began providing funds to pay fringe benefits for Japanese workers at U.S. bases in Japan. At that time, head of the Defense Agency (currently the Defense Ministry) Kanemaru Shin explained that this expense was made based on sympathy, which was the start of the so-called “sympathy budget”. Since then, the scope of the sympathy budget was extended and the budget amount has been steadily increasing.

The U.S. government has complained about the use of the term “sympathy budget” and claimed that as a nation hosting the U.S. military, it is Japan’s responsibility to share in the stationing costs.

In response to the U.S. complaint, the “sympathy budget” was renamed the “budget to enhance resilience of the Japan-U.S. alliance”. However, the fact remains that this budget is recognized as funds that Japan provides as host nation support (HNS) to the U.S. military stationed in Japan and is not a treaty obligation under the SOFA.
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