The First of Many Firsts: Japan’s Misawa Air Base

History of Misawa Air Base in Japan

The Misawa Airbase in Japan is a US military property or base located in Misawa, Aomori prefecture. It is one of the only US bases in Japan which is a joint service installation. This means that it is a facility that combines and houses the three forces of the US military which includes the Marines, Navy, and Air Force.

The place where it is established had already been used in the military since the end of the Edo period. It was a place where the Imperial Army received special training. However, it was only in the late 1930s that Misawa was transformed into an air base which will train long-range bombers.

Since the Second World War, the United States helped a great deal in the re-development of a new system of government in Japan. With this, they started to establish a set of military bases in Japan.  What is interesting about this is that The U.S. Military took over the military bases in Japan after they have decommissioned the Imperial Army and Navy of Japan. This, as explained, is believed to be one of the necessary actions to help the Japanese adopt a new system of government, which is demilitarized.

Although the Japanese government has completely been autonomous from the control of the US for decades, the US still has a few military properties all over Japan. The US has a number of military bases all over Japan even up until today.

For instance, the Marine forces are based in Okinawa, the Naval fleet is in Kanagawa while the Air Force is in Misawa and Kadena. These are just some examples are there are still a number of US military bases in Japan. In all of these bases, there is almost a hundred thousand personnel deployed comprising of both military and civilian staff.

Things to Know about the Misawa Airbase in Japan

Schools that offer Education for Children of personnel

Since there are three different units of the US military housed within the Misawa Airbase, this means that the population of the area is significantly high. As an additional benefit for the family members of those with the Japanese military who are stationed at the airbase.

The Cummings Elementary School has become the home of the Swans, or children of US Navy personnel who have been assigned to the airbase. For the Dragons or Marines, scholarship can be provided by the Sollars Elementary School. Lastly, children of the Eagles or the airforce is given a scholarship at the Robert T. Edgren High School.

These are lower education scholarships which are given to the children and family member of US military staff who are assigned at the Misawa Air base. There are also scholarship offerings for higher education. These schools include the University of Phoenix, Central Texas College. Also, the Asian Division of University Maryland Universty.

Current Units in the Misawa air base in Japan

There had been a great number of units and squadrons which have resided in Misawa Air Base in Japan and these have varied through the years. Currently, the Major Operating Unit currently residing in the Misawa Air Base is the 35th Fighter Wing which has been in the base since October of 1994. The Major command assigned in the region would be the Pacific Air Forces which have been in the position since October 1978.

This air unit is a combat unit of the Air Force and is part of what is known as the Pacific Air Forces' Fifth Air Force. This particular combat unit has fought along the US Air Force during the Korean War and Vietnam war.

Before it became the 35th Fighter Wing of the Misawa Airbase in Japan, it was originally an inactivated fleet known as the NAS Keflavik. This was a fleet originally deployed at a US base in Iceland. Since its re-activation as the 35th Fighter Wing, it has received the responsibility of being the host unit of the Misawa Airbase.

This means that it has the responsibility of supporting the Air Defense Force of Japan, known as the Japan Self-Defense Forces. The entire Fighter Wing consists of the General Dynamics F-16 fighting falcons. This is a supersonic fighter aircraft which have populated the US Air Force since the early 1970s.

The design of this particular aircraft is that it is the first to use what they call a relaxed static stability flight control system. This gives the vehicle an ability to automatically change altitude and angle of bank on its own in the absence of control. When it comes to weaponry, it is equipped with an M61 Vulcan Cannon.

Finding the Misawa airbase Japan

Misawa Airbase address and location

The Misawa Air Base is located in the district of Misawa, in Aomori Prefecture in Japan. It is located quite near the sea and is located on the eastern side of the Aomori prefecture which results to really cold summers. The eastern part of the Aomori prefecture experiences a decreased amount of sunlight compared to its western counterpart. Its runways have a total length of 3,000 kilometers, a place where squadrons upon squadrons of Air Force units take off on a daily basis.

Misawa Airbase weather

The current climate at the Misawa Air Base is that it is temperate. This means that it has four different seasons and is quite cool for the most part of the year. The prefecture to which the Misawa Air Base belongs to is found in the northern region of Japan. This is why even if the season is warm, the general climate or temperature is cold.

The coldest temperature recorded in the prefecture falls roughly – 9 degree Celsius while the hottest temperature rises to roughly 33 degree Celsius. The temperature remains cool even during the summer months of July and August.

The Misawa Air Base Map: What’s Inside the Misawa Airbase of Japan

Misawa Air Base Housing

There are three different kinds of housing options for military and civilian staff who are deployed to the Misawa Air Base in Japan. The US Air Force has assigned a Housing Management Office or HMO to help the staff re-locate, transfer, and adjust to their new homes. According to the rules of the Housing Management, the type of housing option will be identified depending on what they call a Temporary Lodging Allowance.

Government Housing – This is the kind of housing option provided for staff and members of the staff who have brought with them their families during deployment. This kind of housing offers up services and amenities such as access t schools, food services, and even youth programs.

It is said that this is to aid all the members of the family to adjust to the re-assignment, especially in foreign locations or deployment where the culture and language are different. This kind f housing is also known as Family Housing and is usually located at the Main Base and North Area of the Misawa AB.

This kind of housing is usually offered for staff who are subject to staying long-term at the base, often longer than three years. Often times as well, this kind of housing is offered for the staff with high positions in the organization.

Unaccompanied Housing – This is the kind of housing option provided for staff who do not have their family with them during deployment. It is a kind of dorm-type housing and an individual is accompanied by their other mates without their families as well.

Despite the fact that it is dorm-type, the entire facility boasts of its functionality and maintenance. It has been developed to provide comfortable homes for the staff of the Misawa Airbase. Usually, those who reside in the Unaccompanied Housing or UH are those with ranks between E-1 to E-4. They are usually staff who are required only 3 years of service before being transferred to another location. The amenities include kitchens, entertainment centers, recreational equipment, and more.  

Community Housing – Servicemen with ranks from E-4 and higher have an option to choose off-base community housing. This means that the Housing Management Office shall have the responsibility of providing assistance to individuals looking for houses outside of the base.

IF there are no other options available to the base, the HMO will allow housing within the local communities surrounding the Misawa Air Base. A lot of officers prefer this kind of arrangement because it allows their families to enjoy the local culture. It exposes them to a world outside of the walls fo the Misawa Air Base. It is the responsibility of the HMO to provide translation services between the officer and the landlord and act as a mediator in the negotiation process.

Misawa Airbase Hospital

Since the Misawa Airbase is a home away from home for the US military, it must be ensured that they have facilities on hand to attend to their needs. One of the most important facilities that they must have would be the Misawa Air Base Hospital.

This hospital is state of the art with trained military doctors and nurses that are trained to attend to the worst kinds of emergencies using the least amount of resources. The great thing is that since the country is not at war and the squadrons hosting the Misawa Air Base are not deployed to war-stricken areas, the Misawa Air Base hospital will have to attend to the personal needs of the military and civilian staff of the airbase.

Misawa Air Base Lodging

The Misawa Airbase is not normally opened to the public for safety and operational reasons. However, there are certain times of the year when certain parts of the airbase are accessible to the public. This is during the Misawa Air Festival which is held every second Sunday of September. This year 2017, it was held on the 10th of September. This air fest is a grand holiday where both military forces march in parades and show their capabilities in the skies.

During this time, the public is allowed to tour certain areas of the military base but are not allowed to lodge or stay overnight. They enjoy parades, air shows, and more. This kind of activity was established to show the public that there are goodwill and camaraderie between the Japanese Airforce and the US air force. The main goal of the activity is to showcase combined capabilities of the two military units and also show that there are a diplomatic bond and understanding between the two countries.  

Misawa Airbase Jobs

There are two types of Jobs which are available at the Misawa Air Base in Japan and these are civilian and military kinds. Although the base is located in Japan, it is clear that the military staff working inside of the base are all American citizens and have been trained by the US military. There are groups that provide information on how to access and apply for jobs at the air base but it is not going to be easy.

On the other hand, there is a possibility that civilian jobs like maintenance work can be given to local groups because it can be a cheaper alternative for the management. On the other hand, there is a strict screening of applicants for the safety and security of the air base.

Other Air Force Bases in Japan

One of the other air bases which are located in Japan would be the Yokota Airbase which is located near central Tokyo. This is the headquarters of the Japan-based forces of the US airforce. Their branches would be Camp Asaka, Kadena Airbase, Camp Chitose, Tsushima communication site, Itazuke Auxilliary airfield and more.

The army also has a number of bases all over Jaan, they have Naha Port, Camp Zama, Torii Station, Sagami General depot and more. The navy also has bases in Japan this includes the Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Kisarazu Auxilliary Landing Field and more. There are also marine corps forces in Camp Fuji, Camp Courtney, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and more.