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Omoiyari Yosan (思いやり予算 ?, lit. sympathy budget), is a popular term for the Host Nation Support provided by Japan for the U.S. forces stationed in Japan. The official term is the Financial Burden for US Forces Stationed in Japan (在日米軍駐留経費負担 Zainichi Beigun Churyu Keihi Futan ?). Although technically only the portion of financial support not mandated under the 1960 U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), it is popularly used to refer to Japanese support as a whole.[1]

The term originates from comments made in 1978 by the then Director-General of the Japan Defense Agency, Shin Kanemaru, in defense of the Japanese government's decision to share financial responsibilities for the U.S. bases in Japan.[2] When questioned about the expenditure, Kanemaru replied that they were provided out of "sympathy".[3]



Under the 1960 SOFA agreement, the support Japan was required to provide for US Forces Japan (USFJ) was limited to the provision of "facilities and areas" for use:


1. It is agreed that the United States will bear for the duration of this Agreement without cost to Japan all expenditures incident to the maintenance of the United States armed forces in Japan except those to be borne by Japan as provided in paragraph 2. 2. It is agreed that Japan will furnish for the duration of this Agreement without cost to the United States and make compensation where appropriate to the owners and suppliers therof all facilities and areas and rights of way, including facilities and areas jointly used such as those at airfields and ports, as provided in Articles II and III.[4]

However, with the rising value of the yen increasing the cost of maintaining forces in Japan and Japan's rapid economic growth increasing the ability of the Japanese to contribute, the United States began in the mid-1970s to pressure Japan to increase its support.[5]

Origins of the Term

The Japanese government first agreed to provide additional support in 1978 by assuming responsibility for the welfare payments of Japanese nationals employed by the USFJ. When questioned in the Diet about the new appropriation in June, Kanemaru made a series of statements in which he repeatedly used the work "omoiyari," which means sympathy or consideration:

  • On June 6th, he asked "given the importance of the US-Japan relationship and considering the strengthening of the yen versus the dollar, isn't it alright to do this not because America is requesting it, but rather out of sympathy, to increase the sense of trust between us?"[6]
  • On June 8th, "I think that sympathetic consideration here can improve the US-Japan relationship... I sincerely believe that the US-Japan Security Treaty is essential to maintaining Japan's independence and security today. As such, isn't it necessary to address the issue of burden sharing with an approach based on the importance of having deep sympathy?"[7]
  • On June 29th, "Now, about the issue of host nation expenditures. When I explained to Secretary Brown that although we may not be able to promise any thing specific with numbers as of yet, from a sympathetic position our agency will put more effort in presenting a more detailed view on the issue within the scope of SOFA before he makes his visit to Japan, he was very pleased and no further request was made from the American side."[8]

Because of the continual use of the term, both by Kanemaru and those questioning him, these additional expenditures became known as the "sympathy budget."[9]

The circumstances that led to the initial establishment of the budget have seen ceased, but the budget itself has continued. The current Japanese government explains the rationale for the sympathy budget thusly: "As a measure to ensure the smooth operations of US forces stationed in Japan, and taking due consideration of the financial situation, our nation voluntarily bears part of the operating costs for those troops."[10]

Expansion of the Budget and Current Status

The additional support provided by the Japanese government has rapidly expanded in the years since. Although initially handled on an ad hoc basis, since 1987 the US and Japanese governments have signed a series of Special Measures Agreements (SMA) more formally establishing the Japanese commitment of support. The most recent SMA, covering the three-year period from 2008-2010, was signed in January of 2008.[11] The agreements do not cover the specific monetary amounts to be provided the Japanese government.

The most significant expansions in Japanese support have been:

  • partial assumption of welfare costs for Japanese employed by USFJ (since 1978)
  • establishment of the Facilities Improvement Program (FIP) which provides funds for the maintenance and upgrade of facilities and areas provided to USFJ (since 1979)
  • partial assumption of labor costs for Japanese employed by USFJ (since 1987)
  • partial assumption of utility costs for USFJ (since 1991)
  • assumption of USFJ training relocation costs (since 1996)[12]

These expanded costs have become Japan's most significant contribution to the US-Japan security alliance. In 2002 Japan's contributions represented more than 60% of all allied financial contributions to the US, and covered 75% of USFJ's operating costs.[13]

The appropriation amount steadily increased from 1978 to 2001, but has since declined due to pressures placed on the Japanese government (see Opposition below). The 2008 Japanese defense budget allocated ¥146.3 billion for labor costs, ¥36.2 billion for FIP, ¥25.3 billion for utilities, ¥500 million for training relocation, for a total of ¥208.3 billion. This represents a 4.1% decrease from the previous year.[14] The total amount that Japan has appropriated for the U.S. troops in Japan since 1987 amounted to ¥12.96 trillion, including base peripheral expenses and base grants.


With the downturn in Japan's economic fortunes and the ending of the Cold War, criticism by opposition parties and the public have increased and divisions have developed among the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) regarding the issue of the budget.

In 1998 former LDP Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa proposed ending the budget in 2000 when the then-current SMA expired due to Japan's "severe financial crisis."[15] And the Japanese government has tried to take steps to reduce the budget. In 2007 the government implemented a cut in the salaries of Japanese nationals working on the US bases, a measure that reduced the Japanese burden by ¥10 billion.[16][17]

When the 2008 SMA came to a vote in the Japanese Diet, it was opposed by the Communists, Democrats, and Social Democrats, leading to its failure to pass the Upper House. Although the Lower House later overrode the decision, the oppositions managed to create a 1 month space between the prior Agreement's expiration and the new one's passage, the first gap since it was established in 1978.[18] In explaining their opposition, the Democrats stated that the Japanese government needed to "negotiate from the viewpoint of the Japanese people," while criticizing the government for destabilizing the lives of the bases' Japanese workforce.[19]

See also


  1. ^ Ministry of Defense page on support for US forces[1]
  2. ^ Hook, Glenn D (2005). Japan's International Relations (2nd edition ed.). Routledge. ISBN 978-0415336383.  
  3. ^ Japanese Diet minutes from 1978/6/6[2]
  4. ^ Full text of SOFA [3]
  5. ^
  6. ^ 日米関係が不可欠である以上、円高ドル安というこの状況の中で、アメリカから要求されるのでなくて、信頼性を高めるということであれば、思いやりというものがあってもいいじゃないか[4]
  7. ^ ひとつ思いやりある配慮をするということが日米関係を高からしめるという考え方を私は持っておるわけであります...日本の今日の安全が、あるいは独立が保てるような日米安全保障条約、これは不可欠だ、私は信念的にそう思っています。ですから、それには深い思いやりというものが必要だという、こういう考え方の中で分担金の問題については対処していかなければならぬじゃないか。[5]
  8. ^ なお、駐留軍経費の問題については、私から思いやりの立場で地位協定の範囲内でできるかぎりの努力を払いたいと考えており、現在具体的数字を挙げて約束することはできないが、ブラウン長官の訪日までに防衛庁の考え方をより詳細に説明できるよう努力する旨述べたところ、ブラウン長官はこれを高く評価し、特に米側から要望はありせんでした[6]
  9. ^
  10. ^ 在日米軍の駐留を円滑かつ安定的にするための施策として、財政事情などにも十分配慮しつつ、我が国が在日米軍駐留経費を自主的に負担 - MOD page on the development of the sympathy budget[7]
  11. ^ Text of the agreement[8]
  12. ^ Ministry of Defense 2008 White Paper[9]
  13. ^ US Department of Defense - Allied Contributions to the Common Defense 2003[10]
  14. ^ MOD White Paper 2008[11]
  15. ^ Kenneth B. Pyle, "Japan's Immobilism" NBR Analysis 9:4[12]
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "思いやり予算:参院否決、来月発効へ 国会初、衆院優位," Mainichi Shimbun 25 April 2008
  19. ^

Further reading



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