No evidence of shots fired following lockdown at home of US Forces Japan
By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 13, 2019
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – Parts of the home of U.S. Forces Japan in western Tokyo were locked down for an hour based on reports of shots fired Tuesday morning.
However, security personnel and Japanese police found no evidence of firearms being discharged on or off base, according to the 374th Airlift Wing.
Starting at 11:26 a.m., the Air Force base was blanketed with “real world” notices of a lockdown on Yokota’s west side, via Facebook, mobile apps and the base-wide public address system.
The wing issued an initial statement at noon saying unverified “reports of shots heard” were under investigation and that security officers were responding.
Base officials issued an “all clear” notice just before 12:30 p.m.
“Security Forces conducted foot and vehicle-based sweeps of the area inside of the base and the Japanese National Police swept the area outside of the base,” according to a statement from the wing. “There were no indications of firearm discharges, and there were no injuries.”
Some sources on base reported the sounds may have been caused by a car backfiring or special cannons used to scare wildlife away from aircraft, public affairs officials said. Such cannons make threatening sounds, such as predator calls or explosions.
Four of Yokota’s five active gates were closed until 12:23 p.m., when the “all clear” message was sent out. Only the east gate, far from the site of the incident, remained open during the lockdown as lines of traffic formed at other access points.
Yokota’s west side – separated from the main base by a four-lane Japanese highway called Route 16 – is home to housing, an elementary school, childcare and community centers, a bowling alley, vehicle operations and an auto care center, among other facilities.
The 374th Airlift Wing and a few other units are participating in a readiness exercise this week, public affairs officials said in a separate email.
“Exercises like these allow us to test our ability to survive and operate during scenarios posed to our forces in a contingency environment,” the message said.