Cheaper regular-grade gasoline returns to pumps at US air base in Tokyo
Stars and Stripes April 12, 2023
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Gassing up at the home of U.S. Forces Japan in western Tokyo got a little cheaper Wednesday when an on-base filling station brought back regular unleaded fuel.
Fussa Express, one of two gas stations at Yokota, started selling 87 octane fuel for $3.54 a gallon on Wednesday morning.
In recent years the only gasoline option for motorists at the base had been premium 93 octane gas, which is still available at Yokota’s East Side Express at $4.34 a gallon.
“This is a great Quality of Life enhancement for service members and their families,” Air Force Col. Jason Beck, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service’s Pacific Region commander, said in a statement Wednesday.
The exchange also sells regular gasoline at other U.S. military bases in Japan, including Camp Zama in Kanagawa prefecture, the headquarters of U.S. Army Japan, about 25 miles from Yokota.
Gasoline prices on U.S. military bases in Japan have soared in recent years.
Premium grade gas hit $5.31 a gallon at Yokota in March 2022, prompting some military motorists to head off base, where regular gasoline, subsidized by the Japanese government, was selling for 159 yen a liter, or $4.71 a gallon.
Regular was still selling for 159 yen a liter at a service station just outside Yokota’s main gate on Wednesday.
The change to regular will help the Fussa Express compete with off-base retailers, said Ray Morris, a customer account specialist for Defense Logistics Agency Energy Japan, ahead of a ceremony marking the change at the gas station.
Demand will likely be high once the Yokota community hears about the cheaper gas, he said.
Regular was sold at Yokota until about four years ago when the base pumps converted to premium, Morris said.
AAFES wanted to bring the cheaper product back last year; however, it took time to find a vendor who could deliver to the base, he said.
One of the first to gas up on regular at Yokota was Air Force spouse Sarah Minor. The mother of four paid $45 to fill up her Honda Stepwagon with 12.7 gallons.
“It used to cost $80 to fill up,” she said.
The change will make a big difference for airmen, Col. Andrew Roddan, commander of Yokota’s 374th Airlift Wing, said at the changeover.
Most U.S. personnel stationed in Japan don’t drive new cars, he said, and the change will “put money back in our airmen and families’ pockets.”
Fueling an engine designed for premium fuel with regular gas will not harm it, if it’s done occasionally, but regular gasoline may cause engine knock that speeds up engine wear and tear over time, according to an Aug. 5, 2021, article on The Drive website.
The exchange sets overseas pump prices based on the U.S. Department of Energy’s weekly average for each grade of gasoline in the continental United States, plus the unique, incremental costs the exchange incurs in each overseas market, according to AAFES’ statement.