(Akahata: December 6, 2015 – p. 2)
Expenses related to the U.S. Forces Japan, which marked a record high, is a general expression to describe expenditures by the Japanese government for the U.S. military presence in Japan. It comprises three areas: 1) expenses for the U.S. Forces stationed in Japan (sympathy budget, expenses for various base affairs, base subsidies, and land rent); 2) expenses for the realignment of the U.S. Forces Japan (including the construction of a new base at Henoko); and 3) Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO)-related expenses. Japan is not obligated by the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty to pay most of these expenses.
Various ministries and agencies cover these costs. Most of the expenses are covered by military funding (the Defense Ministry’s budget). Base subsidies come from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. Rent for the land for bases comes from the Ministry of Finance.
Although a subcommittee (dated Oct. 26) of the Fiscal System Council of the Finance Ministry planned the reduction and partial abolishment of the “sympathy budget” beginning in the next fiscal year, there is a danger that expenses may further increase in future. This is because new bases are now being constructed both in Japan and overseas, including the new base at Henoko in Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture, and the construction of a U.S. Marine Corps base in Guam.
The expenses related to U.S. Forces Japan used to be only expenses for base affairs, base subsidies, and land rent. Expenses that Japan has no obligation to pay, however, were added one after another. Former Defense Minister Shin Kanemaru dubbed these expenses the “sympathy budget” in 1978. SACO-related expenses were added in the FY 1997, and expenses for the realignment of U.S. Forces Japan in FY 2006. This has inflated the amount.