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Akasaka Press Center / Hardy Barracks

The Akasaka Press Center, also known as Hardy Barracks, occupies about 2.7 hectares of prime Tokyo real estate in the well-known Roppongi neighborhood. The Akasaka Press Center is the only facility in central Tokyo for the US military to transport dignitaries quickly and safely by helicopter. It's unlikely that the US will easily agree to its return. The heliport is regularly used by senior US government and military officials traveling from bases further out, such as those in Yokota, Atsugi and Yokosuka.

Origionally named the 3rd Imperial Guard Barrack, it was once home to a garrison of the now-defunct Imperial Japanese Army First Division. The dazzling Roppongi was a military town n the Meiji period. The Japanese Army infantry first regiment and third regiment were assigned there. In 1936, during the February 26 Incident, the first and third infantry regiment took charge. The army was stationed in Roppongi because during the Meiji period, Roppongi was not in the heart of Tokyo, few civilians lived there and and they could secure a large area for the army.

After the war ended, the town that was once for the Japanese army, became a town for the American military. Roppongi began opening bars and restaurants that catered to the American soldiers. The Peace Treaty with Japan in 1952 brought an end to the American occupation, and with the end of the Korean war in 1953, Roppongi slowly changed from the time of the "Tokyo concession" to a place where Japanese people could live. In the 1970s, there was an increase in the number of discos and go go cafes and Roppongi became an entertainment town on the same level as Shibuya and Shinjuku.

The 5th Air Force Technical Liaison Office, located at Hardy Barracks, had been the center of gravity in managing NSA's longstanding SIGINT relationship with the Government of Japan. NSA and Japan's Directorate for SIGINT (DFS) had a SIGINT relationship whose origin dates back to the 1950s. The Technical Liaison Office moved to a new location in October 2007 and the operation at Hardy Barracks ceased.

Today, it stands as one of the few remaining facilities of its kind in the capital's central area. The installation houses the Far East bureau of the US military newspaper "Stars and Stripes", as well as a dormitory. The Pacific headquarters building for Stars and Stripes contains a small exchange and gym. The Armed Forces Recreation Center program consists of four resorts Dragon Hill Lodge in South Korea, Edelweiss in Germany, Hale Koa in Hawaii, and Shades of Green in Florida. Currently serving US military members and retirees, along with some other authorized guests, are allowed to use these facilities. Tokyo Recreational Lodging is situated in the small Akasaka Press Center. It offers affordable lodging and a variety of amenities to best suit your lodging needs, whether on a business trip or on a vacation. Tokyo Recreational Lodging is operated under the Camp Zama Outdoor Recreation Branch that won Stars and Stripes' 2020 Best of the Pacific Small Garrison Outdoor Recreation. The property is very dated and no frills but the price and kindness of the staff cant be beat.

The Akasaka Press Center is located in Roppongi, a crowded residential and cultural hub. A city that never sleeps, the surrounding areas are filled with spectacular nightlife. The facility is within walking distance to many points of interests such as the New Sanno Hotel and the U.S. American Embassy. There are no dining facilities at Hardy Barracks requiring visitors to go off base to eat unless they want something microwaveable from the exchange. Even the morning breakfast offered at Hardy is pretty bare bones; the only offerings are bagels, packaged muffins and canned fruit.

The surrounding area is packed with houses, apartments, offices and museums. One of Tokyo's busiest entertainment districts is also nearby. Some people living in the area are frustrated by the noise of the constant flights, and worried about the risk of accidents. The helicopters usually fly once in the morning and evening, almost every day. Sometimes it will be five, or nearly 10 times daily. Low-flying US military helicopters are a common sight in Tokyo. The decades-old Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement exempts them from a Japanese general aviation law that defines the minimum safe altitude in crowded residential areas to be more than 300 meters above the tallest building.

If there is an accident, then public opinion could quickly turn against the Akasaka Press Center. Japan's Defense Ministry has compiled a summary of complaints about low-flying aircraft. It says there were about 200 between April 2017 and December 2020 in Tokyo. The majority come from Setagaya, the most heavily populated of Tokyo's 23 central wards. It lies on the flight path between bases on the capital's fringes and the Akasaka Press Center. The Press Center is located in Minato Ward. Every year since 2004, both the municipal office and local assembly have written to the Defense Ministry demanding the base be closed. But the Ministry says its hands are tied due to the Status of Forces Agreement.

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Page last modified: 24-06-2021 18:04:11 ZULU