KADENA AIR BASE, Japan –
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan - Officials from the United States Air Force and Chatan City signed an agreement April 3 which allows local Okinawans access to Kadena Air Base in the event of a tsunami or other natural disasters.
Effective immediately, and lasting four years after the signing, the agreement ensures three crucial factors: The safety of all Okinawan residents which includes the Japanese locals, military personnel, Department of Defense workers, and dependents on the island; It also ensures there is a plan in place that not only alerts individuals when natural disasters strike, but helps to prepare them in the event that one does occur and it emphasizes the importance of our bilateral relationship; and reinforces our pledge to work together to solve areas of concern for both nations.
"We saw how dangerous a tsunami can be during Operation Tomedachi," said Brig. Gen. James Hecker, 18th Wing commander. "We knew that it was very important should a tsunami strike that we open up our gates and allow the Okinawans to get to safety".
As a part of the agreement, the United States Air Force will provide a route that runs through Kadena Air Base to Okinawa City where higher ground is located. Much of Chatan City lies in a low coastal area with limited options to moving residents to the safety of higher ground.
"It is very important to take action in the event of a tsunami disaster, especially with Chatan being only two to three meters above sea level," said Masahau Noguni, mayor of Chatan. "Today we sign the agreement with Kadena Air Base to take needed disaster preventive measures."
The route has evacuees entering Gate 1 and turning right onto at Schlegel Road, which turns into Vincent Avenue, then turns right onto Schreiber Avenue and continues out Gate 5 into Okinawa City.
Alternately in the event the primary route is unusable, congested, or to expedite emergency vehicles the route goes in a northeasterly direction up Douglas Avenue until it intersects with Schreiber Avenue, then turns right onto Schreiber Avenue and continues out Gate 5 into Okinawa City.
Chatan City also developed bilingual signs to post should a disaster strike which would guide residents to the evacuation route on Kadena Air Base.
"This is a historic day for Kadena and a great day for the members of Chatan Town," Hecker said.
This article was originally published at: http://www.kadena.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123406681
— USPACOM (posted April 09, 2014) —