Servicemembers urged to avoid Bar Row outside Yokota during police crackdown
By THERON GODBOLD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 19, 2018
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The U.S. military is strongly recommending that servicemembers avoid a popular nightlife area in western Tokyo while local police crackdown on illegal activities.
Bar Row — an area near Yokota Air Base known for its bars, nightclubs, eateries and massage parlors — will be under greater scrutiny by law enforcement through the holidays, according to a statement issued by the base Dec. 14.
“We have recently received reports from our Japanese partners that they have observed increased criminal activity in … Bar Row,” the statement said. “We strongly recommend you consider avoiding this area until the new year to avoid any potential exposure to [Japanese police] operations.”
About two weeks ago, Bar Row business owner Hiroshi Nakashima was arrested on accusations that his bar, Cutie, provided sexual services, according to Japanese broadcaster TBS.
A Fussa police spokesman confirmed Tuesday to Stars and Stripes that patrols had been increased. This happens every year because of an uptick in incidents during the holiday season, he said.
“So much trouble occurs in the area since there are many places that serve alcohol,” he said.
Bar Row businesses have been feeling the effects of the crackdown, according to an employee at El’s Bar who identified herself as Grace City.
“It’s really bad; it’s affecting all of us,” she said Wednesday evening. “There is no business … this time of year everyone wants to party, but now it’s just empty.”
Yokota officials recommend that those who do decide to patronize Bar Row establishments stay attentive and use good judgment.
“Please err on the side of caution as we transition through this period,” the base’s statement said.
Stars and Stripes correspondent Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.