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A Japanese contractor completes installation work at the old east-side gas station on Yokota Air Base, Japan. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is preparing to reopen the facility as a second fuel option for base residents.

A Japanese contractor completes installation work at the old east-side gas station on Yokota Air Base, Japan. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is preparing to reopen the facility as a second fuel option for base residents. (Christopher B. Stoltz / S&S)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A second gas station at Yokota ultimately will be a reality. Officials just aren’t sure how soon.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is working with the base to resurrect the fuel facility on Yokota’s east side, which sits across from the natatorium but was shut down in 1997 due to lack of business. It’s part of a larger development plan that eventually will include a new shoppette and concession mall.

Since the gas station could use existing space and infrastructure, a decision was made to dispense gas again, said Air Force Master Sgt. Donovan Potter, a spokesman at AAFES Pacific Region headquarters on Okinawa. But an opening date for the station hasn’t been determined.

“AAFES is working in conjunction with base officials,” Potter said Wednesday, adding only that the project is “nearing completion.”

“The new gas station will certainly be a convenience for the people residing on the east side,” he said, “but the decision to build the station there is because the gas storage tanks were already in place. It was an easy decision to replace the pumps and locate the gas station with the shoppette.”

The tanks still must be cleaned and additional equipment — including a cash register and computer system at the point of sale — installed before the facility can open, he said. With the new equipment, customers can pay at a kiosk or use credit and debit cards at the pump.

Officials haven’t established hours of operation, but the facility — at least initially — will be staffed by an employee on a limited basis.

AAFES would like to run the station unattended, Potter said. If approved, 24-hour service is a possibility.

“We want to do it really bad,” he said. “That’s our goal. We think it’d be a great thing for our customers at Yokota.”

But according to Potter, base security forces and fire officials have raised concerns about leaving the station without an attendant.

Base authorities wouldn’t say when the station could open and declined an opportunity to talk about the factors that might prevent prospects for a 24-hour setup.

Potter indicated his organization would maintain the request.

“AAFES will continue to work toward unattended fueling options for the customer in the future,” he said.

In 1997, Yokota’s main gas station on the west side accounted for 90 percent of all gallons dispensed at the base, AAFES said.

The east-side shoppette, currently across the street about 40 yards away from the new gas station, will be relocated to the same property later during the larger-scale construction project.


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