Japan approves agreement to host US troops, strengthen alliance

U.S. troops gather on the USS Wasp where U.S. President Donald Trump will deliver Memorial Day remarks to the troops, at the U.S. Military Base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Associated Press/Eugene Hoshiko

Japan’s parliament on Friday approved a new five-year, $8.6 billion deal with the United States for hosting American troops on the island nation’s soil.  

Under the agreement, Japan would spend 1.05 trillion yen through March 2027 to cover joint military exercises and expenses needed to run facilities used by the U.S. forces and the Japanese personnel who work on American bases in the country, The Associated Press reported

The budget also includes a new funding category of up to 20 billion yen, or $164 million, to buy advanced virtual combat training systems to be used in joint exercises between the U.S. and Japanese militaries.  

The deal would come at a critical time for U.S.-Japanese military alliance due to the growing threats from China and North Korea. The latter on Friday released dramatic footage of its recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, its 12th missile test this year.

The close alliance with Japan is viewed as especially vital in countering China’s ambitions, whether militarily in the Indo-Pacific or its economic coercion in the region and globally.  

The new deal would also indicate the U.S.-Japanese relationship is back on track after it was strained during the Trump administration. 

Former President Trump had pushed for Tokyo to quadruple its cost-sharing of hosting U.S. troops or risk losing their presence on the island nation. 

Japan’s government has described the support dollars as necessary for strengthening the alliance between Washington and Tokyo, rather than for “kindness” as it used to be considered, according to the AP. 

Japan has also expanded its joint drills with partners including Australia, India, France, the United Kingdom and Germany. 

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