December 16, 2015 / 9:45 AM / 2 years ago

Japan agrees to raise host-nation spending for U.S. military

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will boost its spending for U.S. forces stationed there by 1.4 percent for the next five years, the Japanese government said on Wednesday, supporting the U.S. military’s Asian presence in the face of a rising China.

Coral reefs are seen along the coast near the U.S. Marine base Camp Schwab, off the tiny hamlet of Henoko in Nago on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, in this aerial photo taken by Kyodo on January 14, 2014 and released on January 19, 2014. Mandatory credit REUTERS/Kyodo

Japan’s contribution to cover such expenses as salaries for workers at U.S. bases and utilities is set at 189.3 billion yen ($1.56 billion) per year on average for the five-year period starting next April.

That is up from actual averaged annual spending of 186.6 billion yen over the past five years. The planned outlay is subject to fluctuations in labor costs.

The decision comes after the United States asked for an increase in the spending as it proceeds with its rebalancing to Asia, aimed at countering China’s growing economic and military might.

Japan had initially sought to cut its contribution in a bid to rein in massive public debt

Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan has moved to boost security ties with the United States.

Japan’s relations with China are clouded by a territorial dispute over a group of tiny East China Sea islets and the legacy of Japan’s wartime aggression.

Japan revised defense cooperation guidelines with the United States in April to take on a larger security role, and in September passed legislation enabling the Japanese military to defend the United States or any other ally under attack.

Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo, Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Robert Birsel

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