U.S. Security Cooperation With Japan

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
May 21, 2018


For almost 60 years the United States-Japan Alliance has been the cornerstone of peace, stability, and freedom in the Indo-Pacific region. The U.S. commitment to Japan’s defense under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty of 1960 is unwavering. We continue to work with Japan to address shared regional and global objectives by enhancing our security cooperation within the U.S.-Japan Alliance, affirming a rules-based approach to maritime governance, and deepening American, Japanese, and South Korean trilateral cooperation in the face of North Korea’s dangerous and unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The depth of the U.S. commitment to the U.S.-Japan Alliance is evidenced by the 54,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan, and the thousands of Department of Defense civilians and family members who live and work alongside them. The U.S. has also deployed its’ most capable and advanced military assets to Japan, including the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan carrier strike group and the F-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter.

Since 1997, U.S. Forces – Japan and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces have jointly conducted Exercise Keen Sword, an annual combined field training exercise designed to increase combat readiness and interoperability within the framework of the U.S.-Japan Alliance. Since 2007, Japan has participated in Exercise Malabar with the U.S. and India. In 2015 Japan became a permanent member to make Malabar a tri-lateral exercise. These joint exercises provide an indispensable real-world training environment for enhancing mutual understanding of each country's tactics, communication protocols, procedures, and general interoperability.

Decades of U.S. security cooperation have served to bolster the Japan’s self-defense capabilities. The U.S. has $19.6 billion in active government to government sales cases with Japan under the Foreign Military Sales system. These include both major platforms, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Aegis Combat System, E-2D Airborne Early Warning Aircraft; the KC-46 Refueling Tanker, the Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), and the Osprey MV-22 Tilt-rotor Helicopter, as well as missiles like the AIM 120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), UGM-84 Harpoon, and SM-3 Block IIA Ballistic Missile Defense interceptor missiles.

Since 2013, the U.S. has also authorized over $14.4 billion in defense articles to Japan via the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) process. The top categories of DCS to Japan include aircraft parts, military electronics, launch vehicles, spacecraft systems, missiles, gas turbine engines and associated equipment.

Japan is a strong partner as a capacity building contributor to United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations, with particular focus on supporting engineering, medical, and communications capabilities. Japan and the United States, through the PM Bureau’s Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), have partnered to support UN efforts to develop training courses for women protection advisors, as well as on the prevention of sexual and gender based violence. Japan also partners, through GPOI, with U.S. Pacific Command to provide instructors to regional training events and participate in peacekeeping exercises.

Since 1960, the U.S. and Japan have maintained a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to delineate the facilities and areas granted to U.S. use as well as the legal status of United States service personnel in Japan. Japan has also helped to offset the costs of stationing U.S. forces in Japan through a Special Measures Agreement.

For further information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov, and follow the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs on Twitter, @StateDeptPM.