Nov 16, 2019 14:04 UTC
  • Trump reportedly asks Tokyo for $8 billion to keep US troops in Japan

US President Donald Trump has asked Tokyo to quadruple its annual payments for American forces stationed in Japan, as part of his administration’s policy to push Washington’s allies to increase their defense spending.

Citing unnamed current and former US officials, Foreign Policy reported Saturday that Washington wants Tokyo to increase annual payments for the 54,000 US troops in Japan to around $8 billion from about $2 billion.

The current agreement between Washington and Tokyo expires in March 2021.  

According to the report, Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, relayed the message to Tokyo during a visit to the region in July.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said the report is incorrect and no negotiations on a new agreement between the US and Japan have taken place.

The report came as US Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, made the same demand of South Korea during a visit to the country on Friday.

Speaking in the capital, Seoul, Esper also said the two countries have to be flexible with their joint military drills and to support diplomatic efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear program.

“It is crucial that we conclude the (defense pact) ... with increased burden sharing by the Republic of Korea before the end of the year,” he said.

A South Korean lawmaker said last week that US officials demanded up to $5 billion a year, more than five times what Seoul agreed to pay this past year under a one-year deal.

The Trump administration has long put pressure on Washington’s long-time allies for more military spending.

Trump has also been pressing NATO countries to pay more for their own defense spending.

MG

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