Japan-United States of America Relations
April 13, 2016
Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements
Under the increasingly severe security environment in the Asia-Pacific region, including North Korea's provocative behavior such as its nuclear and ballistic missile development programs and China's military build-up, the Japan-U.S. security arrangements are indispensable to the security of Japan and to the peace and stability of the region. With this recognition, in June 2011 Japan and the United States held a Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee meeting (so-called "2+2 Meeting"). As the outcome of the consultation process to deepen the Japan-U.S. Alliance, that was launched on the 50th anniversary of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, the 2+2 Joint Statement of June 2011 reviewed and revalidated the Common Strategic Objectives for the two countries and confirmed the tangible progress and future directions of cooperation in a wide range of areas, including security and defense cooperation, the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, and response to the Great East Japan Earthquake. The 2+2 Joint Statement of April 2012 (PDF) adjusted the plans for the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan in order to reduce burdens on Okinawa as soon as possible while maintaining the deterrence.
Japan-U.S. Cooperation on Security and Defense
At the 2+2 Meeting in June 2011, Japan and the United States agreed to deepen and broaden cooperation in wide-ranging areas of security and defense cooperation. Specifically, the achievements and the future direction of cooperation were affirmed in such areas as operational cooperation, including surveillance and reconnaissance, ballistic missile defense (BMD), extended deterrence,* space, cyberspace, trilateral and multilateral cooperation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, information security, and cooperation in equipment and technology. The 2+2 Joint Statement of April 2012 (PDF) confirmed that the two countries will promote bilateral dynamic defense cooperation, including joint training, joint surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, and joint and shared use of facilities. The two countries are continuing consultations toward steady implementation of cooperation based on these 2+2 Joint Statements and going ahead with the following efforts so as to enhance the capability of the Alliance to address a variety of contingencies.
* "Extended deterrence" refers to the concept of a country providing deterrence through its own military force for its ally in order to defend the ally from an attack by a third country.
A. Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)
Japan has been making steady efforts to develop the BMD system in continued cooperation with the U.S. Bilateral cooperation in BMD has deepened significantly, as exemplified by the decision on the transfer of the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IIA, now jointly developed by the two countries, to a third country. The 2+2 Joint Statement of June 2011 (PDF) clarified conditions under which Japan may grant prior consent when the U.S. requests the transfer of the missile to a third country in the future.
As for Japan-U.S. cooperation in the area of space security, the two countries are discussing a wide range of issues, including policy coordination, information analysis, and operational cooperation. The 2+2 Joint Statement of June 2011 (PDF) identified four areas for possible future cooperation in security concerning outer space: space situational awareness, a satellite navigation system, space-based maritime domain awareness, and the utilization of dual use sensors (sensors that can be used for both civilian and military purposes).
To jointly address challenges posed by increasing threats in cyberspace, Japan and the United States held their first meeting of bilateral strategic policy dialogue on cyber security in September 2011. They shared their views on security challenges in cyberspace.
D. Information Security
The two countries are discussing ways to further improve information security systems, including introducing government-wide security clearances and enhancing counter-intelligence measures (designed to prevent information leaks through intelligence activities).
E. Trilateral Cooperation
Japan and the United States place importance on trilateral cooperation from the perspective of promoting security and defense cooperation with countries that share common values in the region. In particular, efforts are being made to strengthen trilateral security and defense cooperation with both Australia and the Republic of Korea.
Japan-U.S. Cooperation in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake
Close and effective cooperation between Japan and the United States in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 demonstrated the special bond between the two countries and contributed to the deepening of the Alliance. Under Operation TOMODACHI, U.S. forces conducted humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and other activities on an unprecedented scale in close coordination with the Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and supported the SDF’s activities as well. The success of this large-scale joint response has demonstrated the high-level interoperability between the SDF and the U.S. forces and validated years of bilateral security cooperation. Based on the lessons learned from coping with the earthquake disaster and nuclear accident, Japan and the United States has held a series of consultations with a view to further enhancing the capability to address a variety of contingencies affecting the two countries. (See the reference material 3 for the overview of Operation TOMODACHI)
Realignment of U.S. Forces Posture in Japan
In the current challenging security environment, U.S. forces stationed in Japan under the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty play an indispensable role in preserving peace and safety in the region, including Japan. To make the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan more effective and stable, and to reduce burdens on local communities, including Okinawa, while maintaining the deterrence, the two countries have been working closely on the realignment of the U.S. forces posture in Japan. In May 2006, Japan and the United States announced a plan (the Roadmap) to implement concrete measures of realignment of U.S. forces in Japan. In February 2009, the two countries signed the Agreement concerning the Relocation of U.S. Marine Corps from Okinawa to Guam, followed by the conclusion of the agreement in May. Following the subsequent review of the realignment plan, the two countries supplemented the Roadmap with the 2+2 joint statements of May 2010 and June 2011, confirming their intent to construct the Futenma Replacement Facility at the Camp Schwab Henoko-saki area and adjacent waters, with two runways aligned in a V-shape. They also agreed to take further steps to reduce burdens on Okinawa. In addition, they confirmed that the construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility and the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps from Okinawa to Guam should be completed at the earliest possible date after 2014. In the 2+2 Joint Statement of April 2012 (PDF), both governments of Japan and U.S. adjusted the plan for realignment of U.S. forces posture in Japan and decided to delink both the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps from Okinawa to Guam and land returns south of Kadena Air Base from progress on the relocation of the Futenma Air Station in order to reduce burdens on Okinawa as early as possible while maintaining the deterrence. This decision allows for the return of a considerable portion of land south of Kadena before the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps from Okinawa to locations outside of Japan.
The Japanese government intends to address the realignment of U.S. forces posture in Japan in line with the Japan-U.S. agreement and continue to build up tangible achievements toward reducing burdens on Okinawa. Regarding the relocation of the Futenma Air Station, the government intends to give wholehearted explanations on its intent to Okinawa Prefecture and seek their understanding.
Host Nation Support (HNS)
From the standpoint that it is important to ensure stable stationing of U.S. forces in Japan and smooth and effective operation of the Japan-U.S. security arrangements as the security situation surrounding Japan becomes more and more severe, the Japanese government bears the rent for U.S. forces facilities and areas and the Facility Improvement Program (FIP) funding within the scope of the Status of U.S. Forces Agreement. Under special measures agreements, Japan also bears labor costs, utility costs, and training relocation costs for U.S. forces in Japan.
Both the governments of Japan and the United States conducted a comprehensive review on HNS to make it more stable, efficient, and effective, and signed a new Special Measures Agreement on January 21, 2011. The new agreement took effect after approval by the Diet at the end of March that year. The effective period of this new Special Measures Agreement is five years, and the agreement specifies that (1) concerning the labor costs, the Upper Limit of the Number of Workers Japan funds is to be incrementally reduced from the current number of 23,055 to 22,625 during the period of the agreement, (2) the amount Japan is to bear for utilities each fiscal year shall be capped at 24.9 billion yen, with the percentage of the expenses being borne by Japan reduced incrementally from about 76% to 72% of annual utilities costs over the five years, (3) costs for training relocation to territory under the administration of the United States of America, such as Guam, are newly covered, and (4) the United States will make further efforts to economize on these expenses. Furthermore, the amount of reduction of labor and utilities costs will be added to FIP funding. Therefore, the overall level of the HNS is to be maintained at the FY2010 level (bearing in mind the budget of 188.1 billion yen for FY2010) over the five years starting from FY2011. These arrangements were reconfirmed in the 2+2 Joint Statement of June 2011.
Various Issues Related to U.S. Military Presence in Japan
To ensure smooth and effective operation of the Japan-U.S. security arrangements and stable presence of U.S. forces in Japan, the linchpin of these arrangements, it is important to reduce the burden that the activities of U.S. forces in Japan place on the surrounding residents and maintain the understanding and support of the residents regarding the presence of U.S. forces. In particular, the importance of promoting reduction of the burden on Okinawa Prefecture, where U.S. forces facilities and areas are concentrated, has been confirmed mutually by Japan and the United States on numerous occasions, including Japan-U.S. summits and Japan-U.S. foreign ministerial meetings.
Regarding the Status of U.S. Forces Agreement, the Japanese government intends to consider this issue, taking into account progress in other urgent issues, while striving to deepen the Japan-U.S. alliance even further. Meanwhile, the government has been making its utmost efforts to prevent incidents and accidents involving U.S. forces, reduce the noise impact by U.S. forces aircraft, deal with environmental issues at U.S. forces facilities and areas in Japan, and other specific issues in light of the requests of local communities. These efforts have already produced some positive results. Specifically, in November 2011, the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee agreed on a new framework that may allow Japan to exercise jurisdiction over members of the civilian component under certain conditions in relation to offenses committed by such members in the performance of official duty – offenses over which the United States has the primary jurisdiction based on the Status of U.S. Forces Agreement. In December, a Joint Committee agreement was amended so that members of the U.S. forces or the civilian component shall lose their official duty status under any circumstance if they drink and drive to and from work, even if they drink at an official function. Furthermore, under Joint Committee agreements, the relocation of training involving aircraft based at Iwakuni Air Station in October and December 2011 and May to June 2012, which were to be conducted at Kadena Air Base, and training involving aircraft based at Kadena Air Base in February 2012 to Guam achieved a reduction in the noise impact at Kadena Air Base.