According to reports from The Mainichi of Japan and the American military magazine Stars and Stripes, the Japanese government is in talks with the United States to open up the Yokota Air Base for civilian flights during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games.
While no decision or deal has been made for the temporary use of the air base for civilian air traffic, a US Forces of Japan spokesperson said the US military is open to support Japan’s efforts in holding the Tokyo Olympics.
“Any future commitments of specific US military support to the Olympics and Paralympics will be balanced against operational readiness concerns and Alliance obligations,” said US Air Force Col. John Hutcheson, a USFJ spokesman. In a report on the Stars and Stripes, Col. Hutcheson added the US military and embassy in Tokyo are waiting for detailed requests from the Japanese government regarding the matter.
Yokota Air Base – the headquarters of the United States Armed Forces in Japan – is located in the city of Fussa in Western Tokyo. It serves as a base for the US Air Force and the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF).
The discussion to open up the air base to civilian air traffic is nothing new to Japan and the US. The Yokota Air Base has been in discussions since 2003 for potential civilian-military use. Following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the air base took in flights that were diverted from Tokyo-Narita.
Recently, the US and Japan agreed to a deal to open up the airspace around the air base for civilian aircraft departing and arriving at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. It is still expected that the majority of passenger traffic during the temporary periods of the Tokyo Summer Olympics (July 22-August 9) and the Paralympics (August 25-September 6) will pass through the main airports of Narita and Haneda.