All national dailies reported on the announcement on Wednesday by the governments of the United States and Japan that they have agreed to keep Japan’s share of the cost of hosting U.S. forces at the current level for fiscal 2021 following the expiration of a five-year deal at the end of March. Under the agreement, which extends the current deal by one year, Japan will shoulder 201.7 billion yen ($1.90 billion) in the year starting April for the support of U.S. troops in the country. The two governments also agreed to continue negotiations for a multiyear deal covering the cost for fiscal 2022 and beyond. The papers wrote that the two governments are planning to sign an official agreement as early as next week and that the GOJ is hoping to gain Diet approval by the end of March.
Foreign Minister Motegi and Defense Minister Kishi welcomed the agreement. “We were able to reach an agreement at an early date following the inauguration of President Joe Biden. This shows the two countries’ strong commitment to the bond of the U.S.-Japan alliance and enhances the credibility of the alliance,” Motegi told reporters. Kishi told the press that the two nations were able to seal a necessary deal by holding negotiations within time constraints and that the U.S.-Japan alliance is indispensable for the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific.
Nikkei speculated that the two governments decided to seal a deal on a one-year extension of the existing agreement because there was not enough time to negotiate the cost for the next five years by the end of March following the Biden administration’s launch in January. The paper also conjectured that in future negotiations the Biden administration may ask Japan to play a greater role in such areas as island defense, cyber defense, and missile defense in outer space with China in mind.
Yomiuri speculated that the Biden administration’s agreement on the latest deal less than a month after its inauguration demonstrates its policy of attaching importance to the alliance with Japan to counter China. The paper also conjectured that Japan may be asked to increase its defense budget in future host nation support negotiations.
Asahi wrote that according to a senior GOJ official, the Biden administration has already asked Japan to increase its share of the cost. Mainichi speculated that the U.S. side accepted Japan’s proposal on the one-year extension to prevent the issue from becoming a source of dispute between Washington and Tokyo. Sankei speculated that the Biden administration agreed on the latest deal to demonstrate how it differs from the Trump administration, which created turmoil in U.S.-Japan relations by requesting a large increase in Japan’s share of the cost, and to underscore its policy of attaching importance to alliance relations.