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RELATED STORY:Yokota requiring troops to live on base to shrink housing costs

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Rules are rules, and people not authorized to live on base have to go, Yokota officials warned Friday.

So far, between 40 and 50 family members of troops and civilian employees have been identified as possibly living at Yokota in violation of Defense Department regulations, which restrict base housing to eligible personnel and their authorized dependents, said Col. Rafael Quezada, commander of the 374th Mission Support Group at Yokota.

Just because a person is related to someone living on base, doesn’t make that person a dependent, Quezada said.

Once children turn 21 — or 23 for full-time college students — they are no longer considered dependents. Exceptions are granted for those with certain medical conditions, which can also qualify aging parents and other family members as dependents.

But unless relatives are registered with the military as dependents, they are not allowed to live on base, even if they work here, have an ID and have SOFA status, Quezada said. Common violations involve relatives who come for a visit but end up getting a job on base and staying.

"I found a family with nine people living in one house," Quezada said.

Such violations pose security issues and immigration problems for people living here without a job because they likely have overstayed their visas, he said.

Quezada said he suspects housing violations are plaguing Yokota because of its proximity to Tokyo, one of the most expensive cities in the world. "People think they can work in Tokyo and live on base real cheap."

Other residents, while eligible for housing, have been found to be breaking the rules by continuing to live in homes designated for larger families after their dependents have left Yokota.

It was unclear Friday whether other bases in Japan had identified similar housing violations.

The problem at Yokota became apparent, in part, through the police blotter — a daily account of reports from security forces — which documented car accidents and other minor incidents involving people living illegally on base, Quezada said.

Base sign-in logs that showed the same people entering over and over again also highlighted the problem, he said.

Base officials will continue monitoring those records to help identify housing policy violators, Quezada said.

Quezada also sent a letter to base commanders Thursday noting the problems and asking them to encourage employees in violation of the rules to contact the housing office. It also said the base would begin a "revalidation" process for those who have been living on base more than five years to ensure they are complying with housing policies.

Those living in larger homes than they are eligible for will be moved to smaller accommodations by the military. No timeline has been established for when violators will be forced to downsize or leave the base, Quezada said.

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