Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times wrote that multiple sources connected to U.S.-Japan relations disclosed on Wednesday that the governments of the United States and Japan held a working-level meeting in Washington in early August to discuss Japan’s share of the cost of stationing U.S. forces. The papers speculated that the two governments agreed to hold intensive discussions with the goal of concluding the talks by the end of this year and that attention will be focused on the extent to which the Japanese government will agree to increase its “consideration budget,” which includes the salaries of local workers and utilities costs at U.S. bases. The papers also conjectured that the U.S. side will try to gain Japan’s understanding for its request for an increase by saying the importance of U.S. bases in Japan has been growing in view of China’s rising military presence in the region. The papers also said that the talks could run into difficulty if the two sides fail to narrow their differences because the Japanese government has told the U.S. side that it is difficult for Japan to accept a large increase in the cost. However, some within the GOJ believe it will be necessary for Japan to accept the U.S. request to some extent to maintain the strong U.S.-Japan alliance, Ryukyu Shimpo added. Okinawa Times speculated that the Japanese negotiators expressed reluctance to accept the level of increase Washington proposed in past preparatory discussions by saying Japan is already making the maximum contribution.