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U.S. asks Japan to keep spending on U.S. bases

Date Posted: 2010-07-29

A senior U.S. official involved in bilateral negotiations with Japan is calling on the country to continue spending money to maintain American bases scattered across the country, particularly Okinawa.

Japan has backed off on spending for “host nation support” for the American bases during the past few years, and Prime Minister Naoto Kan is looking for further cuts in order to boost his country’s economy. The support covers salaries of Japanese workers on U.S. bases, and also pays for most of the utilities costs at all bases. The current fiscal year budget for supporting American forces in Japan is ¥188 billion ($2.15 billion).

Andrew Shapiro, U.S. assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, says “we are asking the Japanese people to contribute to and to invest in the U.S. – Japan alliance. He noted the “challenges” and “threats” that exist, and says “the role that the U.S. military plays in Japan and the Asia-Pacific Region cannot be understated.”

Shapiro says the talks on revising the bilateral treaty that expires next March “got off to a very good start”, but a senior Japanese official said the negotiations will be tough, and won’t be concluded until the end of 2010.

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