The US Air Force in Japan operates from three bases: Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture, Yokota Air Base in Western Tokyo, and Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture. Misawa Air Base, home to USAF’s 35th Fighter Wing, is the only joint-service installation in the Western Pacific, serving the U.S. Air Force, Army, and Navy, as well as the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). Yokota Air Base is the headquarters of U.S. Forces, Japan and home to the 374th Airlift Wing and the 5th Air Force, with a base population of over 11,000 people. Kadena Air Base hosts the 18th Wing, the U.S. Air Force’s largest combat wing. Altogether, the U.S. Air Force in Japan presence supports U.S. interests in the Pacific during peacetime and wartime, and aids in the U.S.’s defense of Japan.
USAF in Japan has been instrumental in deterrence in the Pacific, which has been especially important considering the persistence of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. In April 2017, the 18th Wing conducted an “elephant walk” at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa as a show of force to North Korea, and in late-August 2017 USAF conducted anti-missile drills with Japan’s ASDF as a show of U.S.-Japan solidarity. These exercises reinforce the credibility of the U.S. commitment to Japan and its partners in the Pacific, and allow for effective power projection by the U.S. military.
USAF bases in Japan are also active in creating and maintaining the people-to-people ties that reinforce the U.S.-Japan alliance. JASDF join U.S. troops in the 374th Airlift Wing for a bilateral exchange program that takes place three times a year at Yokota Air Base, improving interoperability between the forces and allowing USAF to meet their JASDF counterparts. At Misawa Air Base, the Pacific Partners Air Festival is another platform for cross-cultural exchange, bringing together Japanese and American aircraft enthusiasts and pilots for a day of performances and community engagement.
JUMP strives to reinforce the connections made by USAF in Japan through events and activities throughout the U.S. and Japan.
Through social networks and events, JUMP builds relationships and provides opportunities for past and present service members of the US Air Force in Japan to engage with each other. JUMP provides a powerful foundation for sustaining the solid alliance and relationship that exists between the US and Japan.
Since JUMP’s launch in April 2015, the program already has connected hundreds of present and former US Air Force service members with each other, as well as with their Japanese counterparts, so they can continue to engage with the relationships they built while serving.
Joining is simple! Simply sign up to be a member, which ensures you will receive invitations to attend all JUMP events and also receive our monthly newsletter.
By Darah Phillip
2023 The Japan U.S. Military Program (JUMP)
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