Japan defends ‘appropriate sharing’ of U.S. military burden

Dec. 4 (UPI) — A Japanese official declined to comment in detail about future negotiations with the United States regarding defense cost sharing for U.S. troops, while defending “appropriate sharing” of the burden.

Tokyo’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday at a regular press briefing the two countries are “currently undertaking an appropriate share” of the defense burden, according to multiple press reports.

NHK reported Suga also said he would “refrain from making specific remarks” regarding comments from U.S. President Donald Trump.

In London on Tuesday, Trump said his “friend” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe needs to help the United States because Japan is a wealthy country.

“I’ve asked Japan. I said to Prime Minister Abe — a friend of mine, Shinzo. I said, ‘You have to — you have to help us out here. We’re paying a lot of money. You’re a wealthy nation. And we’re, you know, paying for your military, essentially. You have to help us out’,” Trump said. “And he’s doing — he’s going to do a lot.”

In November, Foreign Policy reported Trump might have asked Tokyo to quadruple payments for U.S. troops in Japan, or about $8 billion annually. The report was published during heated negotiations between Washington and Seoul over cost increases for U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula.

Japan has approached the defense cost issue carefully, and may be quickly complying with Trump’s demands for lowered tariffs on U.S. goods.

The Nikkei reported Wednesday Japanese parliament approved the U.S.-Japan trade agreement. The deal is expected to go into effect on Jan. 1.

The agreement requires Japan to lower tariffs on U.S. beef and pork, with tariffs on U.S. beef, currently at 38.5 percent, to be lowered to 9 percent by 2033.

Japanese tariffs on U.S. pork, set at 4.3 percent, will be eliminated by 2027.

Other sectors affected include U.S. exports of tools and machinery, including air-conditioning parts, according to Japanese press reports.