Unpopular tire shredders at US air base in Japan are undergoing maintenance

A van departs Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo while a recently installed tire shredder system that has received complaints undergoes maintenance, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020.


By THERON GODBOLD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 12, 2020

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — More construction on the security devices known as tire shredders is scheduled at Yokota’s gates, along with accompanying traffic delays, the base announced this week.

It’s maintenance on the system and not necessarily a response to complaints that the recently updated shredders are playing havoc on the undercarriages of some vehicles exiting the gates.

“The tire shredders will undergo maintenance addressing wear that has occurred on the systems,” 1st Lt. Stuart Thrift, a base spokesman, said in an email Tuesday. “The traffic control systems have been part of improving force protection capabilities.”

Work was scheduled to start Thursday and last through Tuesday, according to a post on the base Facebook page. Yokota, in western Japan, is home to the 374th Airlift Wing and headquarters for 5th Air Force and U.S. Forces Japan.

The new shredders, which impale automobile tires in the event a driver attempts to back up or enter through the exit lane, are not popular with some drivers on base.

“Anyone else tired of getting the bottom of your vehicle smashed to hell from these things,” Robert Browning wrote in a post on Yokota Spouses & Families Facebook group on Nov. 2. “Surely, they can adjust the recoil, ridiculous!”

Another driver said the device damaged her car.

“We had to replace our tail pipe, [tire shredders] busted a hole in it,” said military spouse Stacie Bowman via Facebook Messenger. “We heard a big bang after crossing, then the whole car started shaking bad.”

Mechanics at a local garage found yellow paint covering the broken parts of her Nissan March, she said, the same color yellow on the new shredders’ teeth.

Bowman said her family paid for the repairs out-of-pocket, roughly $100. They’d heard that filing a claim through the base legal office was just too much trouble, she said.

That is the recourse that Thrift directed in response to a Stars and Stripes query.

“Anyone who has concerns/claims that government equipment has damaged their vehicle can contact the base legal office to file a claim,” he wrote in the Tuesday email.

For more information about claims, contact the air base legal office at DSN (315) 225-8423 or 9935.

Twitter: @GodboldTheron