US election campaign casts light on Pacific where allies already pay US big sums for their defense
The defense policy debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton often glosses over differences between Europe and the Pacific, where Japan and South Korea already pay substantial sums to the U.S. to offset the cost of defending them.
The issue re-emerged during Monday’s presidential debate, where Trump again called on allies to pay more for their own defense while his Democratic opponent sought to reassure overseas partners that U.S. commitments would remain firm if she wins the presidency.
“They do not pay us, but they should be paying us because we are providing a tremendous service and we’re losing a fortune,” Trump said of America’s allies. “That’s why we’re losing. We lose on everything.”
Trump said if the allies “don’t pay a fair share” they “may have to defend themselves or they have to help us out” because “we are losing billions and billions of dollars” and “cannot be the policemen of the world.”
Past U.S. administrations also have long complained that the NATO allies have not been shouldering enough of the defense burden in Europe.
In the case of Japan and South Korea, however, the allies are already paying.
Japan pays an average of 189.3 billion yen ($1.9 billion) per year to support U.S. bases in the country as part of a five-year deal signed in 2015. Japan also spent 176 billion yen ($1.8 billion) in 2016 toward realignment of U.S. forces in the region, which includes transferring Marines to Guam in the 2020s.
U.S. bases in Japan cost $5.5 billion in 2016, a figure that doesn’t include $1 billion in Japan-provided labor, according to the Pentagon’s 2017 operation and maintenance overview. Half of the $5.5 billion went toward U.S. personnel paychecks and costs.
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