Tokyo governor eyes Yokota Air Base for civilian flights during 2020 Olympics

TOKYO —

Tokyo Governor Naoki Inose has made public comments again putting pressure on the U.S. military to allow civilian commercial airlines to use U.S. Yokota Air Base, to cope with increased air traffic expected in the run up to the 2020 Olympics.

In comments made on a TV chat show on the subject of preparing Japan’s transport infrastructure for the increased traffic, Inose said, “It’s an American military base, so if we are able to use it, there won’t be any construction costs,” Sankei Shimbun reported.

On the subject of building a fifth runway at Haneda airport, Inose said that nothing has been decided yet but even if the project gets the go-ahead, work won’t be finished by 2020.

During the 2003 gubernatorial elections, then Tokyo Gov Shintaro Ishihara pledged to make efforts to get the U.S. to agree to joint civilian-military use of the Yokota airport, which has a 3,350-meter runway, but was unsuccessful. 

Japan Today

  • -1

    Alex Einz

    didnt know he was a comedian

  • 10

    rickyvee

    this wouldn't be needed if they made both haneda and narita 24-hour airports.

  • -1

    gogogo

    The US airbase is a military complex on US soil. It is never going to happen.

    This guy is just wasting time!

  • 1

    CrazyJoe

    Civil-military sharing of Yokota Air Base is unlikely.This is the HQ for US Forces Japan. It is also shared by the SDF. First of all the facility is not large enough to welcome the large number of civilians that's expected to use the facility for the Olympics. The flexible utilization of Haneda and Narita should suffice.

  • 1

    TokyoGas

    I have to agree with rickyvee. Make Haneda and Narita 24 hours for the run up to the Olympics and for a bit of time afterwards. Keep the train lines from the airport open during that duration also.

    Note that Haneda is a very low volume 11pm to 6am airport. I think that less than 10 flights operate during that time.

  • -4

    CH3CHO

    gogogoSep. 17, 2013 - 03:49PM JST

    The US airbase is a military complex on US soil. It is never going to happen.

    LOL. It is Japanese soil under Japanese sovereignty. Japan is letting US use the piece of land. Japan can demand return of the land at any time.

  • 0

    David Van Cleef

    @gogogo @Crazyjoe Misawa airbase operates exactly like that: triple use: USAF, ASDF and commercial service.

    I flew into the commercial side once when I had to do some contract work on-base.

  • 0

    DaveAllTogether

    @gogogo @Crazyjoe Misawa airbase operates exactly like that: triple use: USAF, ASDF and commercial service.

    Granted, but the Misawa Airport (MSJ) has very few flights. It does, however, at least have the facilities for handling paying passengers. Yokota does operate passenger flights, but those are not frequent, low volume, and their customer base does not pay for their flights in to or out of (meaning no frills facilities).

  • -2

    CrazyJoe

    @David Van Cleef

    I believe Iwakuni Air Station also shares their runway with the commercial airliners, although the passengers board the plane on a separate runway off base.

  • 3

    marcelito

    If Narita and Haneda are not sufficient use Ibaraki airport. It was built as a supplementary facility to other Tokyo area airports and already has the recently built terminal facilities and highway bus.link available to Tokyo. No need to throw out wild ideas about civilian use of US airbases.

  • 1

    Lilic

    Even if Haneda and Narita operates 24/7. How you will get there? The transportation system stops between 00:00 and 5:00 am. There's not even one 24 hrs bus running in tokyo.

  • -7

    BertieWooster

    Just turn the US military out!

    Japan needs the space.

  • 4

    lostrune2

    Surely the Japan Olympic Committee addressed the increased transportation issue in their report bid to the IOC?

    So what did they put there?

    Are they following their own report, or changing it, and if so, why?

  • 3

    Jeff Ogrisseg

    Since Inose was Ishihara's right-hand man, this statement is not in the least surprising. The always unmentioned problem in this oft-propsed scheme is the moving of passenegers (this time ostensibly mostly tourists for the Olympics) to and from Yokota AB, not to mention a lack of other basic passenger services.

  • 0

    DaveAllTogether

    moving of passenegers (this time ostensibly mostly tourists for the Olympics) to and from Yokota AB, not to mention a lack of other basic passenger services.

    To say nothing of the security issues. . . .

  • 2

    Farmboy

    I think it would be seen as a security problem, though I like the idea of routing people through other airports. More flights through NGO, Shizuoka, and Haneda would be good. Someone above mentioned Misawa and Ibaraki airports, which I'm not familiar with, the more, the merrier.

  • 2

    SamuraiBlue

    People can fly into Shizuoka, Sendai and/or Nagoya and simply take the Shinkansen to Tokyo. It's not much of a difference from Narita time wise.

  • -4

    CH3CHO

    marcelitoSep. 17, 2013 - 04:48PM JST

    If Narita and Haneda are not sufficient use Ibaraki airport. It was built as a supplementary facility to other Tokyo area airports and already has the recently built terminal facilities and highway bus.link available to Tokyo. No need to throw out wild ideas about civilian use of US airbases.

    Is military, civil dual use of airports such a wild idea? Ibaraki Airport is also known as Hyakuri JASDF Air Base, which is the biggest Japanese air base in Kanto Region. As already pointed out, Misawa and Iwakuni are USAF, JASDF, civil triple use airports.

    Does anyone know what a Patriot Express is?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriot_Express

    Patriot Express

    Across the Pacific, the PE program uses 767 commercial aircraft.

    http://www.airforce-technology.com/news/news76984.html

    The Patriot Express will depart from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and go to Yokota Air Base, Japan; Osan AB, South Korea; Kunsan AB, South Korea and then return back to Osan AB and Yokota AB on return to Seattle-Tacoma, as per the new weekly flights to South Korea.

  • 1

    DaveAllTogether

    Does anyone know what a Patriot Express is? Yes. There is that BUT . . . .

    The AMC passenger terminal at Yokota is not meant for large numbers of passengers coming and going at the same time. To use OKO as a civil airport would require several million dollars worth of construction to build a suitable, secure, and separate-from-the-base facility. Then there is the little matter, as mentioned earlier, of getting passengers to/from Yokota. When you take in all those factors using Yokota as a civil airport just does not make sense.

    Something else for consideration is noise. Yokota gets complaints as it is yet some people want to add to the noise pollution at an airport in a suburban/sorts residential area.

  • 0

    Provident Chauffeurs

    Great article Thanks for sharing

  • 1

    marcelito

    CH3CHO - yes, indeed you are right about the civilian Ibaraki airport utilizing the JASDF Air base. My point is , there is a recently built terminal and facilities that were constructed specifically with the aim of bringing in both domestic and international traffic , especially LCC,s from Asia - Koreana ( until 3/11 ) and Spring Airlines use Ibaraki airport, with passangers taking a highway bus running from the arrival terminal to Tokyo ( at a very reasonable cost of 1000 yen ) . The facilities are under utilized at the moment. Why not look at this ready made and available option instead of talking about Yokota ? ( I,m sure the US military factor is a major stumbling bloc for that option getting off the ground, so to speak ).

  • -4

    toshiko

    gogogo stated
    gogogoSep. 17, 2013 - 03:49PM JST

    The US airbase is a military complex on US soil. It is never going to happen. ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Do anyone know this ? maybe Japan is a US colony?

  • -1

    Probie

    The U.S. should just laugh in his face.

    Japan is constantly whining about the bases here, but now this idiot wants to use them. Tell him to get screwed!

  • 2

    Raymond Chuang

    No.

    Here's the problem: the part of Tokyo is served primarily on commuter rail through the Chuo Main Line into central Tokyo, primarily the "rapid" service between Takao and Shinjuku Stations. Why add to the ridiculous overcrowding problems that plague the eastern part of that line? I'd rather have JR Central--who runs the Tokaido Shinkansen service--run more trains between Shin-Osaka and Tokyo Stations so visitors can arrive at Kansai International Airport near Osaka and Chubu Centrair International Airport near Nagoya and then take the Shinkansen to arrive in Tokyo.

  • -5

    OssanAmerica

    toshikoSep. 17, 2013 - 09:04PM JST gogogo stated gogogoSep. 17, 2013 - 03:49PM JST The US airbase is a military complex on US soil. It is never going to >happen. ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Do anyone know this ? maybe Japan is a US colony?

    No it's not true. Many military bases in Japan are shared between US and Japanese military. Bases are not sovereign territories as are say Embassies.

    ProbieSep. 17, 2013 - 10:04PM JST The U.S. should just laugh in his face. Japan is constantly whining about the bases here, but now this idiot wants to use them. Tell him to get screwed!

    I think you are confusing Okinawa Prefecture with all of Japan.

  • 0

    Nipporinoel

    USA quite rightly denies this request.

    Then i Nose has an excuse to blame the USA for airport delays / congestions.

    Plonker.

  • -5

    Francis Urquhart

    This base is in Japan, right? Don't ask, **tell **the Yanks you are going to use it. It's about time little countries stopped letting the US dictate to them.

  • 2

    Fadamor

    The ONLY way such a joint-share of the runways could have happened is if completely separate civilian facilities could have been built on the opposite side of the airport from the military facilities. Seeing as the military aircraft and facilities are on BOTH sides of the Yokota runway, this proposal by Tokyo's governor is a non-starter. There's no way to ensure civilians aren't near military buildings/aircraft.

  • 0

    ka_chan

    Why is it always Yokota? Are the Tokyo governors idiots or just playing politics. What is wrong with Tachikawa Air Base? Because it is run by the Japanese government? They have time to expand it if needed. From the Inose's statements all I can do is quote Elizabeth Bowen:

    Nobody speaks the truth when there's something they must have

    .

  • 0

    Triumvere

    US military bases persist on Japanese soil because ultimately the Japanese government wants them there. It's that simple. If you don't like it, then take it up with your elected representative.

  • 1

    Matthew Simon

    Providing disaster relief once every 20 years is no reason to have foreign military.

    Tell that to someone whose life was saved or made better because of them.

  • 2

    Mirai Hayashi

    Time to expand Haneda for full international use, and not just an auxiliary to Narita

  • 1

    Triumvere

    Wrong. They are just too afraid to stand up for themselves, typical Japanese attitudes. Again, exactly what have they done in the last 50 years other than raping women constantly ?

    I see you have a firm grasp of geopolitics. A strangle-hold, even.

  • -3

    voiceofokinawa

    An aerial photo shows that Yokota Air Base looks exactly like Futenma Air Station on Okinawa. Both foreign bases are located in densely populated residential areas.

    Just as the Futenma issue does so in Okinawa, the Yokota issue will certainly awake slumbering Japanese citizens from reverie to the hard reality that Japan is no other than a U.S. vassal and colony.

    It's apparent that posters here, most of them U.S. military personnel as I understand, are making so much fuss about Governor Inose's mere suggestion that Yokota be opened to commercial flights for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics because they don't want to give away extraterritorial privileges given to the U.S. military. Remember that 75 percent of the operational cost of the base comes from the Japanese taxpayers' coffers.

    The U.S. military is unduly guaranteed a most-favored treatment under the Japan-U.S. security treaty. The Yokota RAPCON covers the whole airspace over the skies of the metropolitan Tokyo that commercial air liners to and from Haneda must avoid very perilously.

  • -2

    Jerome_from_Utah

    Excellent idea! There are two train lines in close proximity to the base and lots of local people who are fluent in American "English". There is also a Japanese Customs and Immigration facility nearby to keep track of the visitors.

  • 0

    DaveAllTogether

    It's apparent that posters here, most of them U.S. military personnel as I understand, are making so much fuss about Governor Inose's mere suggestion that Yokota be opened to commercial flights for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics because they don't want to give away extraterritorial privileges given to the U.S. military.

    I am former US military and a current captain for a Japanese airline. My comments come from my knowledge of Yokota Air Base, and my seventeen years as an aviation professional. They have nothing to do with an unwillingness to surrender extraterritorial privileges. They are more deeply rooted in practical issues such as there are existing facilities to handle the increase in air traffic. Ibaraki-IBR and Shizuoka-FSZ are white elephants looking for a big meal. OKO could be used for civil air traffic but as I and others have stated there is no infrastructure (terminal, customs), not to mention access to the base.

    There are two train lines in close proximity to the base and lots of local people who are fluent in American "English". There is also a Japanese Customs and Immigration facility nearby to keep track of the visitors.

    A new station could be built on the Hachiko Line which bisects the west side of the base, but the passengers would be funneled into the Chuo Line. Granted, the Chuo Line does not see much traffic so I am sure it could easily handle the influx of passengers. Fussa Station, on the Ome Line is further away but it still leads into the woefully underused Chuo Line. That nearby (read: off base) Customs and Immigration Facility is barely capable of handling a couple of hundred passengers, let alone a few thousand arriving and departing everyday.

  • -1

    Mike45

    "LOL. It is Japanese soil under Japanese sovereignty"

    I dont think that is entirely true. If so, why are there signs posted around military facilites in Japan that state US government property, no tresspassing? If it was that simple, the bases would be long gone. Ishihara and nationalistic JSDF types would of made short business of all bases here years ago. The current, unmodified japan constitution prohibits a standing army, and the security treaty that followed promises a US presence here for years to come. Recent adventures with Abe and no doubt Ishihara are showing us that perhaps behind the scenes all this is being underminded with a new constitution in the works. So far, however, nothing has come of that yet but perhaps the Olympics will smokescreen crafty deeds. Japan signed an unconditional surrender to the victor, the U.S. People can claim soverign all they want, but the victors make the rules. Okinawa was technically given back to a "soveriegn Japan" but all U.S. bases remained on sovereign land.

    This goofy looking new governer of Tokyo is just a clone of Ishihara. As Japanese are so particuliar about image, why would you want the first thing new comers to Japan see upon their arrival is the Occupiers Air Force base? LOL. Not to mention the logistical burden on USAF.

  • -1

    voiceofokinawa

    DaveAllTogether (Sep. 18, 2013 - 02:44PM JST) ,

    Do you want to say these posters are making such a fuss about Gov. Inose's suggestion because they are concerned more about an increasing air traffic congestion? I don't think so. Their opposition to the joint civilian use of Yokota as suggested by Inose, or its total return to Japan as pledged by his predecessor former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara during his gubernatorial election campaign, is along the same lines as Washington's. They don't want to lose the vested rights guaranteed by the Japan-U.S. security treaty.

  • -1

    CH3CHO

    Mike45Sep. 18, 2013 - 04:08PM JST

    You should read SOFA first. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S.%E2%80%93Japan_Status_of_Forces_Agreement

    US government property, no tresspassing?

    A foreign government may own a piece of land in another country, but that does not make the land its territory.

    Japan signed an unconditional surrender to the victor, the U.S. People can claim soverign all they want, but the victors make the rules. Okinawa was technically given back to a "soveriegn Japan" but all U.S. bases remained on sovereign land.

    The unconditional surrender means unconditional acceptance of Potsdam Declaration. So, there is no ifs or whens to the acceptance. But Potsdam Declaration itself has a lot of conditions in it. One of such conditions is this. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Potsdam_Declaration

    (8) The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.

    The Cairo Declaration says as follows.

    The Three Great Allies are fighting this war to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan. They covet no gain for themselves and have no thought of territorial expansion.

    US had no right to claim any sovereignty over land on this side of the Pacific. Making Okinawa US territory would have been a violation of Cairo Declaration.

  • 0

    DaveAllTogether

    Do you want to say these posters are making such a fuss about Gov. Inose's suggestion because they are concerned more about an increasing air traffic congestion?

    No. I, like they, are stating there are other options. Options that have already been built, and are underused.

  • -1

    Elbuda Mexicano

    Only and IDIOT would say something as STUPID as making Yokota Air Force Base in on US SOIL?? What kind of idiot thinks any US base in Japan is not JAPANESE SOIL?? See how AMERICAN these bases are if you commit a crime, the JAPANESE police will haul your ass off the base and into a nice JAPANESE jail ASAP! Yokota is used both by the USA and Japan JSDF, and it is quite big, my guess big enough to land many 747s, 777s and them beauties 787 DreamLiners too, but it is already loud enough with all of these stupid helicopters flying way too low, almost breaking our windows and I would love to have an international airport close to my part of Tokyo, instead of having to trek all the way out to middle of nowhere Narita, in Chiba Prefecture, but at the same time having civilian jets flying so close to my home, our homes in western Tokyo is also a worry, so MAKE HANEDA AND NARITA open 24/7 ASAP!!

  • 0

    DaveAllTogether

    MAKE HANEDA AND NARITA open 24/7 ASAP!!

    Okay!!! Please stop yelling. :)

    Haneda should not be much of a problem in opening 24/7 even when taking into account the late night/very early morning public transportation deficiencies. Narita - not going to happen. Narita's problem is not operating hours but slots. The airport has the potential to handle more flights but the idiots of Toho hamlet are preventing that.

  • 0

    presto345

    run more trains between Shin-Osaka and Tokyo Stations so visitors can arrive at Kansai International Airport near Osaka and Chubu Centrair International Airport near Nagoya and then take the Shinkansen to arrive in Tokyo.

    I was thinking this before I read this, Raymond. But of course KIXS to Shin-Osaka takes a bit of time.

  • 1

    Serrano

    What! And have all that excess traffic on Rt. 16? No thanks!

  • -1

    voiceofokinawa

    DaveAllTogether (Sep. 18, 2013 - 07:14PM JST),

    Of course, there must be other options. But if Yokota ranks the top choice in the eyes of the Metropolitan Tokyo government, then it must be given priority first and foremost. The base is in Tokyo, not in Washington, D.C. nor in New York. Americans have no say in it.

  • 0

    toshiko

    Inose is the Tokyo Governor. He can not specify US bases in other prefectures. So, he chose Yokota which was a candidate to have an Okinawa base relocated by US Military HQ in Japan a little while ago. Maybe Ishihara coached Inose for this idea?

  • 0

    DaveAllTogether

    But if Yokota ranks the top choice in the eyes of the Metropolitan Tokyo government, then it must be given priority first and foremost.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is choosing Yokota not because it is the best place (it isn't). They are using it as a political hot-button issue.

    The base is in Tokyo, not in Washington, D.C. nor in New York. Americans have no say in it.

    Well, according to the U.S. and Japan Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement they do have a say in it.

  • -1

    voiceofokinawa

    DaveAllTogether (Sep. 19, 2013 - 07:28AM JST),

    So we come around the Japan-U.S. security treaty. You know, it was a government-to-government agreement, signed under an abnormal situation. In hindsight, one can definitely say it was a trick to deceive people's eyes and maintain the quasi-Occupation even after Japan's restoration of sovereignty through the San Francisco Peace Treaty. The very fact that there are some posters here who believe Yokota Air Base sits on U.S. soil tells everything about the true nature of that treaty.

  • 1

    David Van Cleef

    @OssanAmerica

    Bases are not sovereign territories as are say Embassies.

    Embassies are not sovereign either. They merely are afforded immunity from entrance by host country law enforcement without permission.

  • 0

    Mike45

    "No it's not true. Many military bases in Japan are shared between US and Japanese military. Bases are not sovereign territories as are say Embassies"

    Most if not all the U.S. bases in Japan were once Japan imperial army/navy/AF bases. The victor reclaimed them and occupied them to serve its purposes. Only latter was the JSDF formed, and allowed to "share" with USFJ.

    If an embassy is a sovereign territory, then why are they required to pay rent to the host country (Japan)?

    The constitution was written by the victor, the United States. Douglas McAuthur acted as the Emperor while a new government was created. There are many who try to erase the post war era with comedy and nostalgia, but the U.S. owned and operated Japan during its reconstruction. No amount of quoting documents or treaties will change that fact. On paper, Japan might be soverign, but the U.S. still has much influence. Can a country truly be soveregn with foriegn military bases and another governments calling the shots? I think this is what is eating at Ish and his clown replacement.

    As far as the poster who said that crimes commited on a US installation are subject to the Japanese police jurisdiction...thats a new one for me. Thats what the SOFA is for, otherwise thousands of base people would be subject to the Japanese courts.

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