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Yokota hosts 47th annual Japanese-American Friendship Festival

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Taylor A. Workman
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 374th Airlift Wing hosted the 47th annual Japanese-American Friendship Festival 2023 on May 20 and 21, welcoming over 193,000 people to the Yokota Air Base airfield.

The base opened to the public for two full days of aircraft static displays, live music, food, fun, and aerial exhibitions of U.S.-Japan military readiness.

“I want to thank each and every attendee, volunteer, and of course, our local and visiting aircrew who made this year’s Friendship Festival a monumental success,” said Col. Andrew Roddan, 374th Airlift Wing commander. “We are so grateful for the opportunity to share our base, our cultures, and our missions with the people of Japan. This is one way we can say ‘thank you’ for your continued support.

Several flying demonstrations accented the festival, with special performances from the Pacific Air Forces F-16 Viper Demonstration Team and Yokota’s very own C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, which dropped dozens of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force paratroopers over the airfield.

Yokota hosted the event with the support of the units from the air and ground branches of the Japan Self-Defense Force, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Navy, and the local community.

“Last year marked 10 years since we began working with the U.S. military at Yokota Air Base,” said Japan Air Self-Defense Force Col. Hiroyuki Ishii, Operations Support Wing commander. “I recognize that this year is the first step toward the next 10 years of working together. I hope that visitors will be able to experience firsthand the dynamics of the U.S. Air Force at Yokota Air Base and the precision of the Air Self-Defense Force, which works together, and collaborates the best aspects of both Japan and the United States. I believe that this is a great opportunity to let everyone know that Yokota Air Base is the keystone of Japan-U.S. cooperation.”

Blue Impulse, the elite JASDF aerobatic demonstration team, also attended, with their Kawasaki T-4 training aircraft in tow. Based out of Matsushima Air Base in the Miyagi Prefecture, the team was nested in a line of static JASDF aircraft, including the older version of the C-130 Hercules, the C-130H.

Open base events like Friendship Festival provide a special occasion for Team Yokota and the surrounding community to come together and enhance mutual understanding and cooperation.

Festival goers came from near and far, with some flying in from the other side of the world to attend the once-a-year event. Now, they have flooded social media with photos and videos commemorating the spirit and importance of friendship.

Roddan and Ishii agreed that this shared spirit of friendship is vital to keeping the U.S.-Japan alliance strong to support the efforts of military forces that preserve the prosperity here, in the heart of the Indo-Pacific.