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U.S., Japan wrap up host nation support preparatory talks 

  • October 17, 2020
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The Saturday editions of all national papers other than Asahi reported on the conclusion of two-day “preparatory consultations” between the U.S. and Japan on the latter’s monetary contribution for stationing U.S. troops in Japan. According to a press statement released by MOFA, the two sides “exchanged views on mutual contributions to the alliance.” Mainichi noted that neither side presented a concrete figure for Japan’s financial share of the burden during the videoconference. The Japanese side reportedly explained its worsening budgetary situation while the U.S. side, led by DOS Senior Advisor Donna Welton, reportedly expressed hope for a greater contribution from Japan. 
Nikkei projected that full-fledged negotiations will start only after the presidential election on Nov. 3 and that Japan is hoping to strike a deal by year-end so that it can submit and enact relevant legislation, including a budget bill reflecting the bilateral agreement, during the current fiscal year that will end on March 31. It added that the GOJ is likely to argue in future negotiations that since Tokyo has already borne a large share of the cost, there is little room for increasing its contribution for the U.S. military.  
Yomiuri wrote that bilateral negotiations on renewing the five-year Special Measures Agreement have been delayed in part because the Japanese side is watching whether President Trump will be reelected. The U.S. side has also reportedly not fully prepared since its “delegation has not been able to coordinate a negotiating position with senior Trump administration officials on account of the presidential race,” according to an unnamed high-ranking GOJ official. The Japanese side is reportedly dismissive of the idea held by some U.S. officials that Tokyo should shoulder an amount four-fold the present level. “We will enter HNS talks while taking into account the increasingly severe security situation in the region and the nation’s tough budgetary condition,” Foreign Minister Motegi told the press on Friday. “At present, the cost for stationing the U.S. military is borne appropriately based on the agreement between the two governments.” 

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