Some of you BT’ers may remember my posts on Tokyo Governor (and former Minister of Transportation) Shintaro Ishihara and his call for dual-use of Yokota Air Base. Ishihara has been among the most outspoken proponents of dual use of Yokota since running for his first term as governor in 1999. He wanted either Yokota AB reverted to Japanese control or the base converted to a dual-use facility. 

This most recent announcement to the basic agreement is expected to alleviate the overcrowding caused by the 470 commercial flights that must take detours around the so-called “Yokota RAPCON (Radar Approach Control)” area each day.

The Yokota RAPCON covers the airspace above Tokyo and eight prefectures — Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Niigata, Nagano and Shizuoka. The military airspace is 7,000 meters high at its northern part and 3,700 to 5,500 meters in its southern part near Tokyo.

Flights bound for western regions, such as Chugoku and Kyushu, have to ascend to avoid entering the banned airspace, while flights originating from those regions must make a detour south of Yokota, according to the transport ministry.

The agreement, however, will effectively shelve Japan’s request for the complete return of the airspace, which it has been seeking since the 1980s.

Here is the latest update courtesy of the Stars & Stripes.