U.S. State Department Geographic Bureaus: East Asia and Pacific Bureau

U.S.-Japan Security Relationship

Fact sheet released by the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs,
U.S. Department of State, July 28, 1997.

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The United States and Japan have maintained a strong security relationship for nearly half a century. During the American occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1952, the U.S. assumed full responsibility for Japan's defense, stationing thousands of military personnel in Japan and taking control of all Japanese land, sea and air bases.

On January 19, 1960, the two governments signed the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, which provides the basis for a close relationship between the two governments and their defense establishments. There are approximately 100,000 U.S. military personnel deployed in the Asia-Pacific region today, and over 40,000 are in Japan, including about 28,000 in Okinawa. Under the terms of the Security Treaty, these troops contribute to the defense of Japan and to the maintenance of international peace and security in the region.

Japan's Self Defense Forces (SDF) have gradually expanded capabilities and assumed primary responsibility for immediate conventional national defense. The SDF mission, which the United States supports, is to defend Japan's homeland, territorial seas and skies. As a matter of policy, Japan has forsworn nuclear armaments and forbids arms sales abroad. A bilateral agreement signed in 1983, however, allows the export of Japanese defense and dual-use technology to the United States.

Despite changes in the post-Cold War strategic landscape, the U.S.-Japan alliance continues to be based on shared vital interests: stability in the Asia-Pacific region; the preservation and promotion of political and economic freedoms; support for human rights and democratic institutions; and the securing of prosperity for our two peoples and the other peoples of the region.

The security relationship between the two countries covers a broad range of cooperation, including close and frequent consultations by senior officials on key security issues; the development and production of defense equipment and armaments; Japan's Host Nation Support, which helps defray the costs of maintaining U.S. forces in Japan; and bilateral planning, training, and exercises. In order to minimize the impact of the activities of U.S. forces on Okinawa, Japan and the U.S. are working through the Special Action Committee on Okinawa, established in 1995, to return land, adjust training and operational procedures, and implement noise reduction initiatives.

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