Yokota Air Base’s exchange no longer has ID checkers at the entrance. Instead IDs are checked as customers pay at the registers.

Yokota Air Base’s exchange no longer has ID checkers at the entrance. Instead IDs are checked as customers pay at the registers. (Christopher B. Stoltz / S&S)

No longer required to be shown at the door, cards instead will be verified during checkout — the same method the Army and Air Force Exchange Service employs for purchases in the Base Exchange and shoppettes. The new policy, signed by Col. Scott Goodwin, 374th Airlift Wing commander, took effect this month.

Jeffery Dusich, Yokota commissary store director, said Thursday the new procedure brings Yokota in line with Misawa Air Base in northern Japan and Kadena Air Base on Okinawa.

“It’s a result of being proactive to customer concerns,” he said. “It was voiced to the command and [Defense Commissary Agency] management that people wanted to have their ID cards checked at the register. … There was concern that guests and dependents were having to stand by and wait while authorized shoppers went in the store, and that was a bit of an inconvenience.

“This way, they can accompany the patron and make whole shopping experience pleasant for everyone. The response has been favorable so far.”

The policy essentially is left to a base commander’s discretion, he added. While the store’s point of sale generally is where IDs get a look on most Army and Air Force installations now, rules vary at other Pacific commissaries.

In Japan, personnel check IDs before allowing people in commissaries at Yokosuka Naval Base, Atsugi Naval Air Facility, Sasebo Naval Base and Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station — but not at Camp Zama or the Sagamihara Housing Area.

Due to a rampant black-market problem in South Korea, officials are strict and only cardholders gain access to commissaries. Customers also must present ration cards, which are used to track purchases such as alcohol.

The Yokota policy shift means base visitors now can enter the commissary. But only cardholders and other authorized patrons may buy items. Base officials are leery of potential abuses, Dusich conceded, but Japan’s traditionally low crime rate has eased worries.

“That’s a concern for some people,” he said. “We don’t really think that’s going to occur, nor are we going to allow that to occur. We’ll stay vigilant.

“I’d say 99 percent of people are not going to abuse the privilege — and risk losing privileges. But it does get voiced every now and then.”

Stars and Stripes reporters T.D. Flack, Juliana Gittler, Allison Batdorff and Jennifer H. Svan contributed to this story.

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