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Bomb threat at Air Force base; ‘all clear’ issued after evacuations

Thousands of visitors crowd the flightline during the 2012 Japanese-American Friendship Festival at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Aug. 19, 2012. Yokota welcomed approximately 178,000 visitors for the festival from across Japan. (Tech. Sgt. Samuel Morse/U.S. Air Force)
June 15, 2023

The U.S. Air Force issued an “all clear” signal at the Yokota Air Base Thursday after a reported bomb threat forced service members and U.S and Japanese civilians to evacuate from a portion of the base.

“Security Forces completed sweeps of the affected areas and declared them safe to resume normal operations,” the 374th Airlift Wing announced in a statement just prior to 1 p.m.

The Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo houses the 374th Airlift Wing and is the headquarters of U.S. Forces Japan. According to the Yokota Air Base’s Facebook page, the base is the “primary Western Pacific airlift hub for peacetime and contingency operations.”

According to a text message obtained from 1st Lt. Danny Rangel by Stars and Stripes, the Air Force is currently investigating the bomb threat that resulted in the 374th Airlift Wing headquarters and the base exchange being evacuated Thursday morning.

A statement released by the Yokota Air Base explained that the 374th Security Forces Squadron responded to a reported “on-base security threat” at 10:20 Thursday morning.

“Base personnel were directed to evacuate from affected areas and 374 SFS officials conducted appropriate measures in response to the threat. The installation’s Fussa Gate and Supply Gate were temporarily closed as part of the response,” the statement said.

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After the 374th Security Forces Squadron completed a sweep of the base, Yokota officials announced that all of the affected gates and roads on the base had reopened for normal traffic.

“No injuries were reported as a result of this incident,” Yokota Air Base leadership said in a statement. “Yokota Air Base members are advised to continue to follow the directions of security personnel and remain vigilant for suspicious activity and to report incidents to [security forces].”

According to The Japan Times, the Yokota Air Base is the home of roughly 14,000 personnel. The base also serves as the headquarters of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force Air Defense Command. The base is often utilized by U.S. officials for trips to Japan.

Thursday’s reported bomb threat is not the first incident to occur at the Yokota Air Base. The Japan Times reported that extremists were suspected in “homemade mortar attacks” against the base in both 2009 and in 2013.