For over 60 years the United States-Japan Alliance has served as 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 approximately 55,000 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 United States 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 Joint Strike Fighter.
Decades of U.S. security cooperation served to bolster Japan’s self-defense capabilities. Japan acquires more than 90 percent of its defense imports from the United States and has expressed growing interest in interoperable technology with advanced capabilities. Japan issued a five-year defense procurement plan to expand its defense spending through Japanese fiscal year 2023 in response to regional security challenges.
The U.S. has over $20 billion in active government-to-government sales cases with Japan under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system. Japan’s July 2020 $23.11 billion request to procure up to 105 additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft became the second largest single FMS case ever authorized by the Department and notified to Congress. FMS sales notified to Congress are listed here, and recent and significant implemented sales include: the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, E-2D Airborne Early Warning Aircraft, the KC-46 Refueling Tanker, the Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), and the MV-22 Osprey Tilt-rotor aircraft, 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 2015, the U.S. also authorized the permanent export of over $12.5 billion in defense articles to Japan via the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) process. The top categories of DCS to Japan include gas turbine engines and associated equipment; aircraft parts; and military electronics.
Japan is a strong partner as a capacity building contributor to United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations, focused on supporting engineering, medical, and communications capabilities. Japan and the United States, through the U.S. Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), 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. Indo-Pacific Command to provide instructors to regional training events and participate in peacekeeping exercises.
Since 1960, the U.S. and Japan 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 also helped to offset the costs of stationing U.S. forces in Japan, primarily through a Special Measures Agreement and the Facilities Improvement Program.
Since 1997, U.S. Forces – Japan and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces 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 actively participated in Exercise Malabar with the U.S. and India. In 2015, Japan became a permanent member to make Malabar a trilateral 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.
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.