Japan to stop calling a share of mutual defense “the Sympathy Budget”

One from the Japan Times.

This was one of these petty insults that had no place in U.S.-Japan relations. For a number of years the Japanese have been providing a supplementary payment in support of U.S. armed forces stationed in Japan. This is not the money and in-kind provisions that are part of the 1960 Mutual Defense Treaty, but a separate appropriation that began in the late 1970’s (when the yen started to become stronger.)

The “sympathy” was because the soldiers had to deal with the strengthening yen, where everything had previously been trading at 360 yen to a dollar. So the term was coined, “omoiyari yosan”. It means sympathy payment.

The problem about omoiyari yosan is that any number of people in Japan are going around thinking that Japan’s entire share of the treaty obligations is omoiyari yosan–not just the part relating to the stronger yen. What I would call the insult right-wing of the LDP (the Tamogami followers) further would twist this to mean a payment being made to an occupying power as a kind of tribute in the fashion of conquering empires.

The extra layer of offense came from the fact that the United States’ citizens put their own hard cash into the defense of Japan as part of the mutual defense treaty, but we don’t call it “sympathy budget” for the fact Japan has its share of enemies in the Far East.

So someone in the DPJ with the good wisdom to see how this was a problem no doubt said, drop the term “sympathy budget” for the supplemental payment.

I blogged about this very topic of what that supplemental budget was, and what it was called, and I’m happy that someone on the Japan side finally agreed that the name was problematic.

[Update: I had something to say about the nature of the Sympathy Budget over on Mutant Frog, too.]

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