MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — With help from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, the base is re-opening the Levitow Gate near the commissary to help ease traffic congestion during the weekday morning commute.

Maj. Joe Milner, 35th Security Forces Squadron commander, said JASDF has agreed to provide three of its security and transportation guards from the 3rd Air Wing at Misawa from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. Monday to Friday, to improve base access. Backing Security Forces at the main gate, one JASDF guard will staff an incoming vehicle lane while another will check identification cards of pedestrians and bicyclists. The third JASDF troop will join a Security Forces member at the Levitow Gate.

The Levitow Gate is to open Thursday. It closed more than a year ago after the Kamakita Gate on Security Hill opened in March 2004 for commercial traffic search operations. Milner said Levitow Gate had to be closed to staff Kamakita.

The JASDF guards who will be checking IDs have been trained by U.S. personnel, Milner said, adding that the extra staffing during the morning rush hour should improve traffic flow, which has slowed since March, when gate guards began hand-inspecting identification of all drivers and pedestrians entering the base.

The Levitow Gate will be closed this Friday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday due to the Golden Week holiday, Milner said.

“On other Japanese holidays, we may have a one-day closure but we’ll try to warn people far enough in advance so it’s not a big deal,” he said.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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