YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — As construction of Japan’s new Air Defense Command headquarters nears completion, officials here are still working out exactly how U.S. and Japanese troops will share the base.
The ADC will begin operations on Yokota by the end of March, and all 800 Japanese troops associated with the command will be on base by the end of the year, Yokota officials said.
Along with a 1.3 million square-foot operations center, the Japanese are also building a dormitory for about 200 single enlisted troops who will live on base, a dining facility, a Japanese military exchange store, an auditorium and other support facilities for the ADC, which is transferring from Japan’s nearby Fuchu air base in metropolitan Tokyo.
The ADC commander and vice commander along with four other general officers and their families will also reside at Yokota, home to U.S. Forces Japan headquarters and 5th Air Force. U.S. and Japanese officials could not provide figures for how many dependents will accompany the 800 Japanese troops and civilian employees assigned to the ADC.
While security officials adjust the computer system for accessing the base for the incoming Japanese, details of how they will share facilities with the 11,000 Japanese nationals and Americans — including troops, Defense Department civilians and their dependents — already living and working at Yokota are still being worked out, said Lt. Col. Peter Kelley, the special assistant for the ADC project.
While some of facilities will be open to both Americans and Japanese, others will not, he said.
There are no plans to assign existing on-base family housing at Yokota — where 6,750 Americans and their dependents reside — for the Japanese, said Kelley, adding that off-base family housing for Japanese military families is under construction near Yokota.
The move will bring an estimated 250 more cars to Yokota and only a nominal amount of additional air traffic, Kelley said.
The ADC headquarters building is expected to be complete by March 31, Kelley said. All but one of the other facilities are already under construction, many of them nearing completion, he said.
The construction has rerouted car traffic around the base, and the base this week closed one of four main gates until fall, when much of the construction should be finished.
A headquarters command, the ADC controls air operations and missile defense for all of Japan and coordinates air support for Japan’s naval and ground forces.
The project, which broke ground three years ago, has been touted most for enhancing U.S.-Japan cooperation on missile defense.
“The concept is simple, but it’s impossible to overemphasize the value of the personal relationships that daily face-to-face interaction can build, or how simple it is to solve a communication problem with the ability to walk over to a counterpart’s desk,” Col. Stephen Town, director of the Army Air and Missile Defense Division at Yokota, said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.
The U.S. and Japan began partnering on missile defense in the wake of North Korea’s 1998 missile test over Japan. In December, Japan announced plans to further expand its anti-missile system as part of a new “dynamic” defense policy.
The relocation is “necessary to share useful information between the U.S. and Japan,” a spokesman for Japan’s Ministry of Defense said this week.