Sasakawa USA Forum Issue No. 18
The Looming Cost-Sharing Storm: Mitigating the Impacts of Special Measures Agreement Negotiations on the U.S.-Japan Alliance
The Trump administration’s quarrelsome position towards alliance cost-sharing spells trouble for the U.S.-Japan security relationship. The current cost-sharing agreement between the two countries is purposely bounded to the areas of labor, utilities, facilities improvement, and training relocation, but the Trump administration’s desire to set a new benchmark for stationing costs and higher dividends from cost-sharing threatens to erode decades of carefully negotiated stationing arrangements. The final tally in what Japan pays to support stationing of U.S. forces on its territory is less important than the potential impact to broader alliance management issues. Alliance managers can mitigate potential fallout by taking four steps: (1) enlisting the aid of U.S. officials with direct ties to the White House; (2) adding categories to the Special Measures Agreement that more accurately reflect relative cost-sharing benefits; (3) providing increases in cost-sharing where it makes sense based on real economic conditions (such as the scheduled consumption tax hike); and (4) firmly advocating for long-term alliance benefits over potential short-term financial gains.
About the Author
Michael Bosack is a Ph.D. candidate at the International University of Japan’s Graduate School of International Relations. Prior to leaving military service to pursue his Ph.D., he served as the Deputy Chief of Government Relations at Headquarters, U.S. Forces, Japan. There, he was part of the team that drafted and implemented the 2015 Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation, and he was one of the founding members of the Alliance Coordination Mechanism. His current doctoral research examines Alliance Theory, specifically focusing on the negotiations and outcomes of the 1997 and 2015 Defense Guidelines between the United States and Japan. Michael is also a former Mansfield Fellow and a graduated East-West Center Fellow.
About the Sasakawa USA Forum
This paper serves as Issue No. 18 of the Sasakawa USA Forum, a platform for research and analysis related to Japan and U.S.-Japan relations in a bilateral, regional, and global context. In order to gain a more comprehensive view of U.S.-Japan relations, the Sasakawa USA Forum publishes research from experts outside of our organization. Click here for details on how to submit research for consideration.
Featured Image: U.S. Marines carry the American, Japanese, and Marine Corps colors during the annual Camp Fuji Fire memorial ceremony at the command post, Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji, Japan, Oct. 19, 2018. CATC Camp Fuji hosts the ceremony annually to remember the October 1979 tragic fire that took the lives of 13 Marines with Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, and injured many others, to include Japanese rescue workers. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Timothy Turner)