Can the “Okinawa Problem” Ever Be Resolved? | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: DENY X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

Can the “Okinawa Problem” Ever Be Resolved?

In the coming months, Japan and the United States will negotiate over the Special Measures Agreement (SMA), a cost-sharing arrangement for American military presence. These talks will influence the future of Indo-Pacific security and America’s role in the region.

In 2019, reports suggested that the US could demand a five-fold payment increase from the current $8.7 billion. A year later, on the sixtieth anniversary of the Japan–US Security Treaty, President Trump expressed his confidence that “Japan’s contributions to our mutual security will continue to grow.”

In response, Defense Minister Taro Kono stated that the alliance’s value was priceless. Japanese officials believe the country cannot afford a large increase; the country already pays all Japanese workers at US bases, 61 percent of annual utility costs, and 75 percent of training relocation costs.

Failed SMA talks would harm the alliance. It could prompt the withdrawal of US forces from Asia, as Washington has demanded a similar cost-sharing increase from Seoul. It will be interesting to see how much Trump compromises before an election, especially since he has continuously demanded allies do more.