US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has expressed readiness for formal negotiations with Japan on its share of the cost of stationing US forces in the country.
Pompeo said on Wednesday that the United States and Japan held the first consultations last week for a new host nation agreement by which Japan will take on its share of the burden for their mutual security.
He added that the two sides agreed to continue coordination on dates and framework for formal negotiations in the coming weeks.
Japan's financial contribution for hosting US bases is agreed upon every five years. It includes salaries and utility costs for employees at US military bases in Japan. The current arrangement is set to expire in March next year.
President Donald Trump's administration is expected to urge Japan to significantly increase its share, as it has called on allies to boost their defense budgets, as well as shoulder more of the cost when hosting US forces.
Observers say, however, that the prospects of the talks may be swayed by the result of next month's US presidential election.