Iwakuni’s gas price inequality questioned
On Friday afternoon, Marine Corps Community Services at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni was charging $2.75 per gallon for unleaded midgrade gasoline — 56 cents per gallon more than the Army and Air Force Exchange Service and the Navy Exchange Command.
In mainland Japan and Okinawa, AAFES and NEXCOM locations have lowered prices for unleaded midgrade gas in recent months. AAFES dropped its price Feb. 6 from $2.30 to $2.19 per gallon, and NEXCOM had followed suit as of Friday.
Chief Warrant Officer 3rd Class Jeff A. Stocker, stationed at Iwakuni, said he read an article in the Feb. 3 Pacific edition of Stars and Stripes stating that AAFES locations in Japan and Okinawa were charging $2.30 per gallon for unleaded mid-grade gas. He made a stop the next day at Iwakuni’s only gas station for private vehicles.
“That’s when I noticed a sign proudly declaring that gas was priced at $2.75 per gallon, ‘recently reduced from $2.90,’ ” he said Thursday.
The Defense Energy Support Center, supplier of gas to mainland Japan and Okinawa bases, lowered prices from $2.20 to $2.06 a gallon, an Okinawa AAFES official told Stars and Stripes last week.
“Why is it that MCCS is charging … more per gallon than AAFES?” Stocker asked via Iwakuni’s Interactive Customer Evaluation, or ICE, system. Correspondence on the ICE system can be submitted in confidence; however, he provided a copy to Stars and Stripes.
“This does not seem right to me,” Stocker said Friday by telephone. “The last time I looked, a Marine gets the same COLA (cost-of-living allowance) that a soldier or airman gets.”
MCCS and the various functions and services it represents must be self-sustaining, MCCS officials have said. Were MCCS to absorb a decrease equivalent to those of AAFES or NEXCOM in the price per gallon at the pump, Howard said, it would “significantly affect the free and subsidized quality-of-life programs currently offered by MCCS, which are paid for with funds generated through business activities.”
Because of gasoline-sale and all other MCCS business profits, he said, annual free events that can be offered include “the Summer Music Fest, 4th of July fireworks show, Friendship Day, Base Appreciation Day and monthly musical and comedic acts.”
Other free or discounted services, Howard said, include the Single Marine Program, Marine Lounge, Semper Fit, Outdoor Recreation, Gear Issue and Family Team Building. Also, many base locations are able to offer amenities including free Internet access, movies and games.