WASHINGTON — A new fact sheet issued on Tuesday by the State Department’s Political-Military Affairs Bureau underscores “deepening American, Japanese, and South Korean trilateral cooperation in the face of North Korea’s dangerous and unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”

The U.S. government has helped to bolster Japan’s self defense, the fact sheet says, through military support, joint exercises, and sales and transfer of technology. Since 2013, the U.S. has authorized over $14.4 billion in defense articles to Japan through commercial sales. The top categories include aircraft parts, military electronics, launch vehicles, spacecraft systems, missiles, gas turbine engines and associated equipment.

The United States currently has $19.6 billion in active government to government sales cases with Japan under the Foreign Military Sales program. These include major platforms — the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Aegis missile defense system, E-2D early warning aircraft; the KC-46 refueling tanker, the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft and the Osprey MV-22 tilt-rotor helicopter, as well as missiles like the AIM 120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile, the UGM-84 Harpoon, and SM-3 Block IIA ballistic missile defense interceptors.

The U.S. government supports the ROK’s defense modernization efforts through defense sales, a second fact sheet states, in order to “strengthen its role as a regional security partner.”

From 2000 to 2017, the U.S. government contracted more than $26 billion in foreign military sales to the ROK. In the last four years alone, South Korea has purchased more than $13 billion in defense articles, training, and services. This includes the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Global Hawk unmanned aircraft, KF-16 aircraft upgrades, Aegis missile defense systems, Patriot interceptor missiles, Harpoon missiles, and Apache attack helicopters.

From 2013 to 2017, the U.S. government approved more than $7.9 billion in direct commercial sale exports to the ROK, the majority of which were for aircraft, gas turbine engines and military electronics.

The ROK is a significant troop contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations, with more than 600 personnel deployed to six missions. In coordination with the Global Peace Operations Initiative, South Korea partners with U.S. Pacific Command by providing instructors to regional training events and by participating in peacekeeping exercises.

Other points highlighted by the State Department:

• There are 54,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan, along with thousands of DoD civilians and family members.
• The U.S. has deployed its most advanced military assets to Japan, including the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan carrier strike group and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
• The U.S. and Japan have maintained a Status of Forces Agreement since 1960. Japan has helped to offset the costs of stationing U.S. forces in Japan through a special measures agreement.
• Over 28,500 U.S. military personnel are stationed in the Korean Peninsula to deter and defend against the threat from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...