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2024 February 28 - March 5 [POLITICS]

US military-related expenses paid by Japan amount to more than one trillion yen

March 5, 2024

Spending related to U.S. military forces in Japan, which the Japanese government incurred for fiscal 2023, has totaled about 1.17 trillion yen with a record-high of 852.2 billion yen in the initial budget and 316.9 billion yen in the supplementary budget combined.

Since the second Abe government, the total amount of U.S. military-related expenses has been steadily increasing.

In the FY2023, a budget for the construction of the new U.S. Henoko base has remarkedly increased to 103.5 billion yen, up 27.3 billion yen from the previous fiscal year.

A budget for expenses under the Facilities Improvement Program (FIP), one of the items in the so-called “sympathy budget”, has also increased by 3.1 billion yen to 29.8 billion yen.

The rise in the FIP expenditure is for the strengthening of the U.S. military’s resilience and survivability: the ability to withstand an enemy attack and to maintain the functions of U.S. bases in Japan. It assumes that an attack on U.S. military installations in Japan will be a realistic danger in the event of a military conflict between the U.S. and China, and that the U.S. military can survive even if Japan becomes a battlefield.

The “expenses related to the U.S. forces in Japan” include the Defense Ministry’s contribution to the cost of stationing U.S. forces in Japan (the sympathy budget); U.S. military realignment costs; and the Japan-U.S. Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO)-related costs. In addition to these, several ministries share the expenses, for example, for the provision of grants to U.S. base-hosting municipalities.

Article 24 of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) stipulates that the United States will bear all expenditures without cost to Japan incident to the maintenance of the U.S. forces in Japan except land rent. However, with the 1978 “sympathy budget” as a start, a series of expense items such as SACO-related costs (from FY1997) were added in response to the U.S. request although Japan has no obligation to shoulder the stationing costs of U.S. troops under the SOFA. The sympathy budget, which is funded by Japanese taxpayers’ money, has been used to build housing units for U.S. personnel and their families, schools, and recreational facilities.
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