The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said Friday that it will use the U.S. Air Force’s Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo as a transportation hub for emergency vehicles when it conducts a disaster simulation drill Sept. 1.
The U.S. base will also serve as an evacuation point for the sick and injured when the metropolitan government conducts the “Big Rescue” drill next month.
It will be the first time for a U.S. military base in Japan to host a local government drill, Tokyo officials said.
The drill will be conducted in the Tama district around the Yokota base. The U.S. military has indicated it is prepared to cooperate but details such as conditions for helicopter takeoffs and landings have yet to be determined.
The metro government asked permission to use the base and a Japan-U.S. committee, which includes Foreign Ministry officials, decided to grant the request.
U.S. military personnel will not take part in the exercise, officials said.
Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has long sought partial civilian use of the base or its outright return to Tokyo. On Sept. 3 last year, the metro government mobilized around 25,000 people, including about 7,100 Self-Defense Force members, for large scale disaster-prevention drills. in locations such as the central Tokyo shopping district of Ginza.
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