Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Tuesday the United States has confirmed its defence treaty with Japan following a Bloomberg report suggesting President Donald Trump had considered pulling out from the pact.
"The thing reported in the media you mentioned does not exist. We have received confirmation from the U.S. president it is incompatible with the U.S. government policy", he told reporters in Tokyo.
Bloomberg earlier cited unnamed sources as claiming that Trump had discussed withdrawing from the six-decade-old peace treaty with Japan with his confidants because he thinks that the post-war pact treats the US unfairly.
However, according to administration officials, the move is highly unlikely. The president is also said to have made no steps to proceed with the withdrawal. The report says that while the US president, who is an “America first” advocate, earlier mused in private conversations that he has its ally’s back, he also wishes these relations to be more reciprocal.
The 1951 treaty between the US and Japan, which agreed to the pacifist constitution and waived the right to start a war after the latter’s defeat in WWII, foresees that Washington is to defend the island nation if necessary but has no such obligation for Japan. A revision in 1960 also granted the US the right to base military forces there.
According to the report, Trump also floated the idea of seeking compensation for moving American forces from a base in Okinawa. He is said to consider Japan’s efforts to relocate the base as a “land-grab”. The base has been seen in a bad light among locals since three soldiers raped a 12-year girl in 1995.
Former US commander-in-chief Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed in 2013 that the relocation could take place in 2022 if a replacement could be built. But Trump, who has been very critical of the agreements that his predecessor made, reportedly considers that it is another example of how a wealthy country takes advantage of the US. He is said to have said in private that the real estate on the base territory could be worth as much as $10 billion.
The White House has refused requests to comment by the outlet. The reports came shortly after Trump’s trip to Japan, where he also visited the USS Wasp at the Yokosuka Naval Base, shared by the military forces of the two countries and claimed that “the US-Japan alliance has never been stronger”. Notably, the US president is heading to Japan again at the end of this week for a G20 Summit, scheduled to take place in Osaka.