Atsugi putting together plan to open club to locals
Stars and Stripes August 9, 2006
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — It won’t be this Friday, but Naval Air Facility Atsugi wants to serve up its Club Trilogy to the Japanese community, a base official said Monday.
But this concept has shaken and stirred up some local officials who say the bar’s operating hours run too late and could pose problems for the surrounding residents.
The club — a bar and three restaurants — could be opened to Japanese locals for six hours every Friday, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., according to a proposal set forth by base commanding officer Capt. Justin Cooper II. Locals could be taken by bus to Club Trilogy — it’s 600 feet from the gate — after going through a security check. This would give them a chance to experience American culture, just as military personnel at Atsugi get to experience living in Japan, said base spokesman Brian Naranjo.
“We’re a base in a foreign country — we can’t be an island,” Naranjo said. “We’d like to step out a bit farther to show how much we care about the local citizens and being a part of this community.”
Unanswered logistical questions, such as club staffing issues, mean the base has had to push back the original time line, Naranjo said.
But some local officials said they heard the bar plan was belly-up.
“They told us that the Navy decided not to carry out the initial plan to open a bar to the local communities,” said Takashi Yawaka, chief of the Military Affairs Office of Yamato city.
He said the city told base officials last week that the plan was “unfavorable” because there was no means for people to go home after the bar closes at 2 a.m.
“The base is far from a train station and there is no transportation in the late hours,” he said.
A spokesman for the Yamato Police Station shared that concern.
“After 1 a.m. there will be no train services in the city,” the spokesman said Monday. “People under influence of alcohol strolling residential areas could cause problems and trigger crime,” he said.
But officials from both Yamato and Ayase cities said despite the concerns, they welcome base interactions.
“If base facilities are open to public in good hours and regularly, it will be a great idea,” Yawaka said.
The plan is still being hammered out, Naranjo said, and the base will involve local leadership in any decision-making.