Taoka Shunji, Japan Today:
This year Japan is paying 556.6 billion yen ($4.8 billion) for the stationing of U.S. forces here, 165.8 billion yen ($1.5 billion) for land-leases, and, according to last year’s figures, 8.8 billion yen ($77 million) to subsidize the bases. About all the U.S. pays for are the troops’ salaries. If our costs go any higher, we should consider treating the U.S. military as a mercenary force under the command of Japan’s Self Defense Forces.
The claim that the American military protects Japan is false. There is no component of U.S. forces here with the mission to directly defend Japan. For example, the 7th Fleet is based at Sasebo and Yokosuka to maintain American naval supremacy in the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean. The Marines, which are used in land warfare, ride aboard their ships. They do not defend Okinawa. The fighter aircraft at Kadena Air Base (Okinawa Prefecture) and Misawa Air Base (Aomori Prefecture) are deployed to the Middle East. All of Japan’s air space is defended by Air SDF. In Okinawa the U.S. Air Force’s ammunition depot at Kadena and the Navy’s storage facilities at White Beach have nothing to do with defending Japan.
However, if U.S. forces were to return to the United States, the American government would have to pay for them. Therefore, as has been noted in Congress any number of times, it is cheaper to keep them in Japan. According to the U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines, “Japan is fully responsible for the defense of its people and territory … supplemented by U.S. forces.” Even if American forces were to leave, there would be no gap in Japan’s defenses. Should the U.S. seek to increase Japan’s financial burden now, it would violate the host nation support agreement (“sympathy budget”) concluded late last year for a five-year term, meaning that it is OK anytime for the U.S. to kick around Japan.