Yokota force protection warning traced to traffic mishaps
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A television announcement on the Commander’s Access Channel warning that “recent activities have caused some force protection concerns within the Yokota community” was spawned by two traffic mishaps that reportedly occurred last month on Highway 16 along the base’s west perimeter.
The spot, aimed at reminding personnel to “report anything unusual or out of the ordinary,” was removed from the airwaves Friday evening after running for several weeks on Channel 13, said Capt. David Westover, a 374th Airlift Wing spokesman.
Stars and Stripes on Nov. 10 sent a query about the October incidents and subsequent televised message but Westover offered few details in his written response Friday after the announcement was removed.
“The incidents were the result of two suspicious accidents on the installation perimeter,” the statement read. “Both acts were reported to Japanese National Police who helped us look into these incidents.”
Asked why the command would post a warning about an episode that security officials found was not a deliberate attack on the base, Westover declined to elaborate and deferred to the statement, saying he could not discuss the parameters used to determine when an alert is issued to Yokota community members.
“Wing leadership thought it was appropriate to remind the base community of their responsibility towards force protection, by reporting suspicious or unusual activity,” the statement continued. “These actions taken by the base populace along with tactics employed by both security forces and local law enforcement lessen the risk of any incident occurring on base.”
American motorists who later passed by one of the crash sites reported seeing Japanese workers repairing a section of the base’s outer wall a few feet from busy, four-lane Highway 16 between Yokota’s Terminal and Fussa gates.
A Fussa City police traffic investigator said Saturday that the mishap occurred the evening of Oct. 24 when a truck backing up crashed into the wall.
Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this story.