Press Conference by Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa
Tuesday, December 21, 2021, 5:34 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Japan-U.S. Agreement on Host Nation Support (HNS) for the U.S. Forces in Japan (USFJ)
Mr. HAYASHI Yoshimasa, Minister for Foreign Affairs: I have an announcement.
The foreign affairs and defense authorities of Japan and the United States have reached an agreement in principle on HNS for the USFJ.
Due to Japan’s difficult financial situation and amidst the increasingly severe security environment surrounding Japan, Japan has been approaching the consultations under the recognition that it is necessary to support the stable presence of the USFJ and more effectively strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance.
Additionally, this agreement in principle will cover five years from FY2022-2026. Japan’s total expenditure will be 1,055.1 billion yen, with an annual expenditure of about 211 billion yen. The major points are as follows.
Firstly, utilities costs have been greatly reduced since it is difficult to see their direct contribution to strengthening the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. The proportion of the costs borne by Japan will be incrementally decreased from about 61% to about 35%, for a reduction of about 28.5 billion yen over five years.
Secondly, a new item of costs for training equipment and materials procurement, which will contribute to not only USFJ training but also joint training to improve the interoperability of the Self-Defense Forces of Japan (SDF) and U.S. forces, has been newly established. The item will total up to 20 billion yen over five years.
Thirdly, we have decided to prioritize facilities improvement that will contribute to improving the readiness of the USFJ and strengthening the resiliency of its facilities and areas. It is expected that Japan will contribute up to 164.1 billion yen for this over five years.
As a result of sincere negotiations by both Japan and the United States, we will support not only the seamless and effective operation of the USFJ, including enhancing the USFJ’s readiness and strengthening its resiliency, but also more effectively strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, including the SDF. In addition, I believe that we have reached a balanced cost-sharing agreement based on Japan’s difficult financial situation.
In this way, although the cost-sharing to date has emphasized the aspect of supporting the stationing of the USFJ, through this agreement, we have agreed to use these costs to build a foundation to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance. Due to this, we have decided to use the term “budget to enhance resilience of the Alliance” rather than the commonly used term “Host Nation Support.”
Although the term omoiyari yosan (sympathy budget) is often used to refer to HNS, it does not appropriately reflect the content of the agreement. The Government of Japan has decided to use the term “budget to enhance resilience of the Alliance” rather than the commonly used term “Host Nation Support,” and will work to make this well-known among the people of Japan.
To sign the Special Measures Agreement (SMA) as swiftly as possible, Japan and the United States will advance the necessary work for domestic procedures and the like. Additionally, Japan and the United States will sign the SMA at an appropriate time, and we are requesting the Diet to deliberate aiming for the SMA to enter into force by April 1. That is all from me.
Japan-U.S. Agreement on HNS for the USFJ
NHK, Aoki: I would like to ask about the point you just made. The United States is continuing to refer to the stationing costs as “Host Nation Support.” Is there not a gap between Japan and the United States on using the term “budget to enhance resilience of the Alliance”?
Minister Hayashi: The English phrase will continue to be the “Host Nation Support”.
Following this agreement in which we have concurred on using the funds to build a foundation to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance, the Government of Japan has decided to use the term “budget to enhance resilience of the Alliance” in Japanese to directly describe the nature of the Host Nation Support.
NHK, Aoki: I have a follow-up question. You mentioned the Government of Japan. Have you coordinated with the United States on the usage of this term? What is the reason behind the United States not changing the term, while the Government of Japan has?
Minister Hayashi: I believe I am repeating myself but the English term Host Nation Support will continue to be used to refer to the stationing costs for the USFJ following this agreement.
On the other hand, as I stated before, the term omoiyari yosan is often used to refer to these costs as well. But we have decided to use the term “budget to enhance resilience of the Alliance.”
Yomiuri Shimbun, Abe: Following up on the question just now, members of the Liberal Democratic Party have pointed out that it may be quite difficult for the people of Japan to understand the term “budget to enhance resilience of the Alliance.” How will you gain their understanding?
Minister Hayashi: Although the cost-sharing to date has emphasized the aspect of supporting the stationing of the USFJ, as I explained earlier, through this agreement, we have agreed to use these costs to build a foundation to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance, including improving the readiness of the SDF and its interoperability with the U.S. forces. Because of this, we have decided to use the term “budget to enhance resilience of the Alliance.” We will try to explain our intention in the easiest way possible.
Asahi Shimbun, Nobira: Although the agreement this time greatly reduces utilities costs, it newly establishes costs for training equipment and materials procurement. I believe this change in the nature of the agreement is an important point. What are your thoughts on this point?
Minister Hayashi: It is as I stated before. Although I am repeating myself, while the cost-sharing previously emphasized the aspect of supporting the stationing of the USFJ, my understanding is that under this new agreement, funds will be used to form a foundation to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance, including improving the readiness of the SDF and interoperability with the USFJ.
Japan-China Relations (Entry into Force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement)
Independent Web Journal, Hamamoto: I would like to ask one question about future relations with China. The RCEP Agreement will enter into force between nine countries, including Japan and China, next month on January 1, 2022. The Chinese market is the largest export market for Japan, surpassing the U.S. market. The RCEP will be Japan’s first free trade agreement with China, and I believe Japan’s interdependent relations with China will further deepen. On the other hand, people in the LPD with prior experience serving as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have been making endless remarks that could stir up a crisis with China. Former Prime Minister Abe, the head of the largest faction of the LDP, stated, “A Taiwan contingency would be a contingency for Japan, and therefore a contingency for the Japan-U.S. Alliance.” In addition, former Deputy Prime Minister Also stated, “Japan and the United States must defend Taiwan together” at a speech in Tokyo on July 5. I can only interpret the phrase “defend Taiwan” to mean war with China. If war broke out with China, Japan would lose its largest market and the Japanese economy would receive heavy damage. War or the economy? I believe that diplomacy plays a major role, so please share with us your thoughts.
Minister Hayashi: I would like to refrain from commenting on individual comments made by people who have left the government. If I were to say anything further, it would be that as protectionism and inward-looking tendencies strengthen around the world, Japan has demonstrated its leadership as a flagbearer of free trade, starting from the TPP11 and building up to the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the Japan-United States Trade Agreement, the Japan-UK EPA, and the RCEP that you just mentioned. Therefore, we will continue to work to expand free and fair economic zones and maintain and strengthen rules-based multilateral trade systems based on the steady implementation of the TPP11, the RCEP, and other agreements.
Japan-U.S. Agreement on HNS for the USFJ
Kyodo News, Maeda: I would like to return to the issue of Host Nation Support. I would like to hear your thoughts on the fact that the total budget will increase this time. Under this agreement, utilities costs have been decreased while a new item has been created for training equipment and materials procurement to improve the interoperability between Japan and the United States. As a result, the total costs borne by Japan over five years will increase. I believe that Japan engaged in the negotiations from a basic standpoint that the financial situation is difficult, so what is your reaction to the fact that the total budget will increase?
Minister Hayashi: The budgeted amount for FY2021 is 201.7 billion yen, and as I stated at the beginning, the costs borne by Japan over the five years from FY2022-2026 will be about 211 billion yen per year. Thus, if we were to compare them, there will be an increase in the costs from the current SMA, as you stated.
Due to Japan’s difficult financial situation and amidst the increasingly severe security environment surrounding Japan, Japan has been approaching the consultations based on the recognition that it is necessary to support the stable presence of the USFJ and more effectively strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. As a result of that, as I stated before, I believe we have reached a balanced cost-sharing agreement based on Japan’s difficult financial situation.
Statement by the Governor of Yamaguchi Prefecture
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: It has become known that, due to suspicions that top personnel members of Yamaguchi City and Yamaguchi Prefecture conducted canvassing activities for your supporters’ group during the House of Representatives election last October, those people are being questioned voluntarily by the Yamaguchi Prefectural Police. Governor Muraoka of Yamaguchi Prefecture noted earlier that the prefecture personnel members are being questioned voluntarily. Firstly, how do you grasp the factual situation of this issue? Have you or your secretary encouraged the canvassing?
Minister Hayashi: I am aware of the statement by the Governor of Yamaguchi Prefecture that you pointed out. However, I would like to refrain from answering since your question is related to the activities of an investigative organization.
Chugoku Shimbun, Higuchi: You are aware of Governor Muraoka’s statement that top personnel members are being questioned this afternoon. So is it the case that you cannot say anything further at this point because the matter is under investigation?
Minister Hayashi: It is as I stated before.
Japan-Republic of Korea (ROK) Relations (Meeting between the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs and the ROK Ambassador to Japan)
Nikkei Shimbun, Miki: I would like to ask about Japan-ROK relations. There are reports that ROK Ambassador Kang Chang-il paid a visit to the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Mori yesterday, and that they discussed Japan-ROK relations. You also had a brief informal conversation with the Foreign Minister of the ROK at the G7. What were the details leading up to the Ambassador’s visit to the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs this time, and what did they discuss? Do you intend to resume ministerial-level consultations?
Minister Hayashi: Yesterday, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Mori had a brief meeting with ROK Ambassador Kang Chang-il. I believe the meeting took place as part of our diplomatic activities to maintain and build relations with the diplomatic corps in Tokyo. I would like to refrain from going into details of the meeting since it is a diplomatic exchange.
The Situation in Hong Kong (Hong Kong Legislative Council Election)
Asahi Shimbun, Nobira: I would like to ask about the situation in Hong Kong. The lowest ever turnout was recorded for the Hong Kong Legislative Council election on December 19, and the result was that pro-China legislative members won nearly all the seats. Please tell us your reaction to this.
Minister Hayashi: I am aware that yesterday, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region announced the results of the Hong Kong Legislative Council election implemented on December 19, which was the first election to be held following the electoral system change. The international community has indicated strong concerns over the electoral system change in Hong Kong to date, and Japan has also repeatedly expressed its grave concerns. We would like to again express our grave concerns that the Legislative Council election was held in Hong Kong without addressing the concerns of the international community.
It is the long-standing position of Japan to attach great importance to upholding a free and open system and the democratic and stable development of Hong Kong. As I have repeatedly stated until now, Japan believes it is important for relevant elections to be held in a fair manner that is open to candidates representing a wide range of political opinions. We will continue to cooperate with the international community to urge China to take concrete actions. Based on this view, the Statement by Press Secretary YOSHIDA Tomoyuki on the Situation Surrounding Hong Kong was issued recently along with the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on Hong Kong Legislative Council Elections expressing grave concern.