Japan-United States of America Relations

September 8, 2022

Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements

Overview of Japan-U.S. Security Relationship

Under the security environment surrounding Japan, which is becoming increasingly severe and uncertain at a remarkably rapid pace, it is indispensable to strengthen the Japan-U.S. Security Arrangements and to enhance the deterrence of the Japan-U.S. Alliance not only for the peace and security of Japan, but also for the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. The Japan-U.S. Alliance has become more solid than ever under the relationship of trust between their leaders. Given this, Japan and the U.S. are further enhancing their deterrence and response capabilities under the Guidelines and the Legislation for Peace and Security. Through such efforts, Japan and the U.S. have been expanding and strengthening cooperation in a wide range of areas, including ballistic missiles defense, cyberspace, outer space, and maritime security. Japan and the U.S. have been working closely on the realignment of U.S. Forces in Japan, including the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma and of approximately 9,000 U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa to Guam and other locations in order to mitigate the impact on local communities, including Okinawa, while maintaining the deterrence of the U.S. Forces in Japan.

Japan-U.S. Cooperation on Security and Defense

A. Efforts Under the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation (the “Guidelines”)

The Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation announced at the April 2015 meeting of the Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee (“2+2”), reviewed and updated the general framework and policy direction of the Japan-U.S. defense cooperation. Through the Alliance Coordination Mechanism (ACM) established under these Guidelines, Japan and the U.S. have shared information closely, established a common understanding of the situation, and provided “seamless” responses from peacetime to contingencies. In the “2+2” meeting held in August 2017, four cabinet-level officials from Japan and the U.S. concurred on moving forward on identifying measures to further strengthen the Alliance, including through reviewing the roles, missions, and capabilities of each country. At the same time, they reaffirmed the Alliance's commitment to the security of Japan through the full range of capabilities, including U.S. nuclear forces. There have been active interpersonal exchange between high-level officials, with visits to Japan by Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army General Milley in February 2018, Commander of U.S. Pacific Command Admiral Harris in April, Secretary of Defense Mattis and Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Admiral Davidson in June, and Commandant of the Marine Corps General Neller in August. In addition, the Japan-U.S. Extended Deterrence Dialogue was held in March and October 2018, in which Japan and the U.S. had candid discussions about ways to secure the deterrence of the Japan-U.S. Alliance. Through these multilayered efforts, Japan will continue to promote security and defense cooperation with the U.S., further enhancing the deterrence and response capabilities of the Alliance.

B. Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)

Japan has been making steady efforts to develop and engage in the production of the BMD system, such as the decision to introduce a ground-deployed Aegis system (Aegis Ashore) reached in 2017, while continuing cooperation with the U.S., which includes the steady implementation of joint development and joint production of the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3 Block IIA) since 2006. Japan has been fully prepared to protect the lives and property of its citizens from the threat of ballistic missiles from North Korea under any circumstances.

C. Cyberspace

The two countries held the sixth Japan-U.S. Cyber Dialogue in July 2018 in Washington, D.C. in the U.S. Based on the necessity for cross-government efforts by both Japan and the U.S., participants from both sides had a follow-up discussion on matters including the outcome of the fifth dialogue held in July 2017. They also engaged in wide-ranging discussions on Japan-U.S. cooperation in cyberspace, including awareness about the situations, cyber countermeasures in both countries, cooperation in the international arena, and support for capacity building, and issued a joint press release after the dialogue.

D. Outer Space

Japan and the U.S. have held discussions on a wide range of cooperation on space at the July 2018 Comprehensive Dialogue on Space and the Space Security Dialogue. Japan and the U.S. will continue to cooperate on space security, including through mutual exchanges of information in the field of Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and others, concrete examinations of cooperation over hosted payloads (which refers to sending equipment and materials for missions along on artificial satellites), and more. In October, for the first time ever, Japan took part in the Schriever Wargame, which is a multinational tabletop exercise hosted by U.S. Air Force Space Command.

E. Trilateral Cooperation

Japan and the U.S. place importance on security and defense cooperation with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region. In particular, the two countries are steadily promoting trilateral cooperation with Australia, India, and the ROK. At the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting held in June and November 2018 as well as other meetings, the leaders affirmed that such trilateral cooperation with these countries promotes the shared security interests of Japan and the U.S., and contributes to improving the security environment in the Indo-Pacific region. Furthermore, at the first Japan-U.S.-India Summit Meeting held in November 2018, it was affirmed that cooperation between the three countries is of the utmost significance when it comes to ensuring the stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region. They also agreed to continue to strengthen their trilateral cooperation, particularly in the areas of maritime security and enhancing regional connectivity.

F. Information Security

Information security plays a crucial role in advancing cooperation within the context of the alliance. Based on this perspective, both countries continue to hold discussions designed to enhance their cooperation regarding information security.

G. Maritime Security

In fora such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the East Asia Summit (EAS), Japan and the U.S. stress the importance of solving maritime issues in accordance with international law. The Guidelines announced in April 2015 also provide that Japan and the U.S. will cooperate closely with each other on measures to maintain maritime order in accordance with international law, including the freedom of navigation. What is more, the two countries are undertaking various projects and forms of cooperation within the countries of the Indo-Pacific region in order to achieve a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”

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 joint statement issued by Japan and the United States in February 2017, the two Governments affirmed, for the first time in a document at the summit level, that constructing the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) at the Camp Schwab-Henokosaki area and adjacent waters is the only solution to avoid the continued use of MCAS Futenma. Furthermore, in the “2+2” joint statement in August 2017, at the Japan-U.S. Working Lunch and Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting in November 2017 as well as the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting in April 2018, Japan and the U.S. reaffirmed their commitment to implement the existing arrangements, which aim to maintain operational and deterrent capabilities, while also mitigating the impact on local communities, and enhancing support from local communities for the presence and operations of U.S. forces in Japan. Japan and the U.S. will also continue to work closely on the steady implementation of the relocation of approximately 9,000 U.S. Marine Corps from Okinawa to outside the country such as Guam, which will begin in the first half of the 2020s, and on the return of land south of Kadena based on the April 2013 “Consolidation Plan for Facilities and Areas in Okinawa.”

In addition to the return of a major portion of the Northern Training Area (NTA, approximately 4,000 hectares) in December 2017 and the return of West Futenma Housing Area of Camp Zukeran (approximately 51 hectares) in March 2018, the return of land along the eastern side of MCAS Futenma (approximately 4 hectares) was achieved in July 2017 along with the return of land along National Route No. 58 in the Makiminato Service Area (approximately 3 hectares) in March 2018. As a result of the return of these lands, if National Route No. 58, which serves as a major arterial traffic route through the southern part of Okinawa, were to be widened, then this would contribute to the alleviation of traffic congestion that hinders the local residents in their everyday lives, and to the improvement of the living environment for a great many prefectural residents.

Additionally, regarding the relocation of carrier air wing squadrons from Naval Air Facility Atsugi to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni that commenced in August 2017 based on the U.S.-Japan Roadmap for Realignment Implementation of May 2006, the relocation of all aircraft units was completed in March 2018. This relocation will mitigate the problem of noise and other issues that residents living near Naval Air Facility Atsugi, which is located in a densely populated area, have long tolerated. In addition, when it comes to the relocation of functions for receiving aircraft from MCAS Futenma during emergencies at Nyutabaru Air Base and Tsuiki Air Base pursuant to this roadmap, an agreement was reached on the installation of the facilities needed to transfer this functionality in October 2018.

The Government of Japan will continue to make every effort to mitigate the impact on local communities, including Okinawa, by soundly promoting the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, including the prompt relocation to Henoko and the return of MCAS Futenma, while still maintaining the deterrence capabilities of said forces.

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 (SMAs), Japan also bears labor costs, utility costs, and training relocation costs for U.S. forces in Japan.

Furthermore, under the new SMA that entered into force on 1 April 2022 (see below), Japan newly bears expenditures related to the procurement of training equipment and materials, which will contribute not only to the readiness of U.S. Forces in Japan but also to the enhancement of the interoperability between the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) and the U.S. Forces.

As the previous SMA expires on March 31, 2022, as a result of consultations, the governments of Japan and the United States signed a new Special Measures Agreement on February 7, 2022. The new agreement entered into force on April 1, 2022 after approval by the Diet on March 25 that year. The effective period of this new Special Measures Agreement is five years(from Japanese Fiscal Year (JFY) 2022 through JFY 2026), and the agreement specifies that:

  • (1) Labor Costs
    The number of workers funded by the GOJ working at revenue generating welfare facilities will be 3,893, and the number of workers funded by the GOJ engaged in the activities such as administrative work at headquarters and maintenance of assets will be 19,285. As a result, the annual labor costs funded by the GOJ under this SMA will cover 23,178 people out of all of the workers.
    (Note) Any changes to wages and allowances based on National Personnel Authority recommendations will be reflected to the labor cost accordingly.
  • (2) Utilities Costs
    GOJ will bear the annual utilities costs as follows:
    JFY 2022: JPY 23.4 billion
    JFY 2023: JPY 23.4 billion
    JFY 2024: JPY 15.1 billion
    JFY 2025: JPY 13.3 billion
    JFY 2026: JPY 13.3 billion
  • (3) Training Equipment and Materials Procurement
    The GOJ will bear expenditures for procurement of equipment, materials, and related services by the U.S. Forces for training capabilities installed in the facilities and areas used by the U.S. Forces in Japan. Such equipment and materials will not only ensure the readiness of the U.S. Forces but also can contribute to enhanced capabilities of the Self-Defense Forces of Japan for greater Alliance deterrence and readiness. Total amount of training equipment, materials and related services procurement cost borne by the GOJ will be JPY 20 billion over the new SMA period, subject to the completion of all necessary procedures for such budget request.
  • (4) Training Relocation
    The annual training relocation costs funded by the GOJ under this SMA will be approximately equal to the budget amount of the Japanese fiscal year 2021, which is approximately JPY 11.4 billion.
    Alaska will be confirmed as a permissible training relocation site for the Aviation Training Relocation program.

When reaching an agreement on the new SMA, both parties concurred that the costs borne by Japan should be used to build a foundation upon which the Japan-U.S. Alliance will be further strengthened, the Japanese side decided to refer to this budget by a Japanese phrase that points to its goal of enhancing Alliance readiness and resiliency. The annual average budget for HNS during the effective period of the new SMA (April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2027) is approximately JPY 211 billion.

Various Issues Related to U.S. Military Presence in Japan

To ensure the smooth and effective operation of the Japan-U.S. security arrangements and the stable presence of USFJ as the linchpin of these arrangements, it is important to mitigate the impact of U.S. Forces' activities on residents living in the vicinity and to gain their understanding and support regarding the presence of U.S. Forces. In particular, the importance of promoting mitigation of the impact on Okinawa, where U.S. Forces' facilities and areas are concentrated, has been confirmed mutually between Japan and the U.S. on numerous occasions, including the Japan-U.S. Summit Meeting from April 2018. The Government of Japan will continue to work to address the realignment of U.S. Forces in Japan. At the same time, the Government of Japan has been making its utmost efforts to make improvements in specific issues in light of the requests of local communities such as preventing incidents and accidents involving U.S. Forces, abating the noise by U.S. Forces' aircraft, and dealing with environmental issues within USFJ facilities and areas, including the sound implementation of the Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Stewardship concluded in 2015 and the Agreement on Cooperation with regard to Implementation Practices relating to the Civilian Component of the United States Armed Forces in Japan concluded in 2017.

In March 2018, the First Think of Okinawa's Future in the United States (TOFU) Program was started, in which 20 high-school / university students and other young people were dispatched from Okinawa Prefecture to the U.S. The goal of this program was to provide opportunities for young people from Okinawa to witness for themselves what the U.S. is truly like and the role that Japan plays in the international community. It was also designed to work toward promoting mutual understanding by having them interact with local important officials and young people in English. In the second program in 2019, 24 high-school and university students were dispatched to the U.S. We will continue to contribute to further internationalization of Okinawa through this program.

United Nations Command (UNC) and U.S. Forces in Japan

As the Korean War broke out in June 1950, United Nations Command (UNC) was established in July of the same year based on UN Security Council Resolution 83 and Resolution 84. Following the ceasefire agreement concluded in July 1953, UNC Headquarters was relocated to Seoul, South Korea in July 1957, and UNC (Rear) was established in Japan. UNC (Rear) placed in Yokota Air Base currently has a stationed commander and four other staff and military attaches from nine countries who are stationed at embassies in Tokyo as liaison officers for UNC.

Based on Article 5 of the Agreement Regarding the Status of the United Nations Forces in Japan, UNC may use the U.S. Forces' facilities and areas in Japan to the minimum extent required to provide support for military logistics for UNC. At present, UNC is authorized to use the following seven facilities: Camp Zama, U.S. Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, U.S. Fleet Activities, Sasebo, Yokota Air Base, Kadena Air Base, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, and White Beach Area.

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