• Kyodo

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A top commander of U.S. Forces Japan backed the idea Monday of allowing commercial aircraft to use the U.S. military’s Yokota Air Base, located in the suburbs of Tokyo, during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“We will support it a hundred percent” if the State Department approves specifics for it, said Brig. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, deputy commander of U.S. Forces Japan, at a group media interview in Tokyo.

Japan’s government has requested that the U.S. Air Force base be open for partial use by commercial aircraft on a temporary basis, to address traffic demand expected to surge throughout next year’s games.

The commander said nothing had been decided yet concerning the possible military-civilian use of the Yokota base, but suggested that the two countries are discussing requirements for the plan at working-level talks.

In 2003, then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and U.S. President George W. Bush agreed to start studying the possibility of allowing civilian aircraft to use the Yokota base, but the plan has not progressed since that time.

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