Washington, Oct. 28 (Jiji Press)–The United States will consider Japan’s roles in regional security during talks on host-nation support for U.S. troops stationed there, a senior State Department official said Wednesday.
At a teleconference with media organizations including Jiji Press, Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, indicated the U.S. will not focus only on Japan’s financial burden.
The current five-year bilateral deal on Tokyo’s financial support for U.S. troops stationed in Japan expires at the end of March 2021.
The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has been asking allies to drastically increase such financial support. Tokyo has been calling on Washington to take Japan’s various contributions to the bilateral alliance and regional security into consideration.
Cooper’s comments apparently signaled a softening of U.S. stance toward Japan.
He said consultations have already started. “This is making sure that we are in a space where we can move forward, not just from a burden-sharing aspect, but also where we identify mutual interests,” he said.
In formal negotiations expected to kick off by the end of the year, Cooper said “what Japan has done not only in the self-defense space, but what they’ve also done as they partner in the region” will be discussed.
Cooper also said that “Japan plays a significant role in the Indo-Pacific.” Such a contribution “certainly will factor in conversations regarding a host-nation support agreement,” he said.
The Trump administration has been complaining that it is spending a lot of money for defending allies such as Japan, South Korea and Germany, urging them to shoulder more costs of U.S. troops stationed there.
According to a memoir of former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton about his time in the White House, he conveyed Trump’s wish that Tokyo will increase its host-nation support to some 8 billion dollars a year, during a visit to Japan in July 2019.