Army clarifies policy for overnight guests at Tokyo's Hardy Barracks
April 10, 2005
HARDY BARRACKS, Japan — Visitors to Hardy Barracks, the popular Army lodging facility in central Tokyo, cannot bring guests who lack military identification to stay overnight unless they receive written permission from their commands in advance, under a long-standing U.S. Army Japan rule recently being enforced.
In the past, military ID cardholders could bring guests onto the small base to stay at the hotel, as long as the friends had legal identification to show gate guards and the sponsor paid a higher room fee for additional guests. Visitors could sign in any time using a Japanese driver’s license or a valid passport for certain other nationalities.
Last month, all Army posts in Japan began enforcing an old rule that bars nonmilitary ID cardholders from staying overnight on Army bases, unless the cardholders who invited them receive permission from their command, the housing or lodging office and the Army pass office in advance, according to Col. Garland Williams, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan.
Guests still can be signed in between 5 a.m. and midnight on weekdays.
Williams last week extended the hours guests can be on post on weekends to 3 a.m. from 1 a.m., to match the open hours at the club on Camp Zama, he said.
Williams said the rule always had been in place, but it was recently enforced as a way to account for everyone on a base.
“It’s all force protection,” he said. “It gives us an idea of who’s where.”
In the past, some residents at Camp Zama had not signed out guests they previously signed in, so base officials never completely could account for everyone on base, he said.
The change also affects soldiers and civilians living on Army bases, including Camp Zama and its housing areas.
Barracks residents cannot have any overnight guests, Williams said, except in very special circumstances with his permission, such as for a visiting family member from the States. That rule stems from the shared nature of most junior soldiers’ barracks. “I’m not going to inconvenience a roommate so you can have a guest,” Williams said.
Those in family housing and bachelors E-7 and above, officers and civilians can have overnight guests by following the same process: commander’s signature and housing office approval.
“I’m not trying to legislate morality,” Williams said. “There’s no reason to be on post [after 3 a.m.]. Everything is closed.”
While Army base residents have known about the new enforcement for weeks, those hoping to stay at Hardy Barracks might find it a surprise.
Yokota resident Air Force Master Sgt. Paul Luers planned to stay in Tokyo recently with a friend when the new enforcement went into effect. He already had a reservation at Hardy Barracks. The lodging office called him to tell him of the change. The added step of getting a command’s signature makes staying at Hardy impractical, he said.
“It’s just too much hassle,” he said. “My commander has too much to sign already. I’d almost have to put it in two weeks in advance for him to get back to me.
“It’s a morale-buster,” Luers said. “They’ll let you give your life for your country, but they’ll be dammed if they’ll let you have a guest.”
The lodging office may not inform visitors in advance when they make a reservation in the future, particularly if they don’t say they’re bringing a guest.
“There is no reason for the lodging to expect the person doesn’t have an ID card,” Williams said. “Lodging is going to assume [guests] have an ID.”
Last week, a servicemember and two Japanese friends slept outside the gate at Hardy Barracks, waiting for morning. The servicemember, who didn’t give his name, said lodging did not tell him about the rule when he checked in. When he came back after midnight, his friends were barred entry.
Other bases in Japan require that overnight guests show proof they have a place to stay, such as a form from lodging, but will grant an overnight pass on the spot.
Hardy Barracks is popular for space-available rooms as an alternative to the nearby Navy-owned New Sanno Hotel. Hardy Barracks is walking distance to the night district Roppongi and many popular Tokyo areas. Visitors come from across Japan and the Pacific but also within the Kanto Plain area.
Servicemembers and other military ID cardholders who plan to bring non-ID-card-holding guests still can do so with a little effort, Williams said. The policy is difficult but necessary, Williams said.
“I think we have it as fair as we’re going to,” he said. “People have to do a little planning now. That’s all.”