Photo/IllutrationAn aerial night view of the U.S. Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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The deputy commander of U.S. Forces Japan expressed a willingness to allow commercial use of the Yokota Air Base during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics to ease congestion at Narita and Haneda airports.

“We will support it 100 percent” upon request from the Japanese government, Brig. Gen. Christopher Mahoney said at a news conference on April 22.

During the quadrennial sports events, heavy traffic is expected for takeoffs and landings of aircraft using Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture and Haneda Airport near Tokyo Bay.

Japanese government officials have expressed a desire to make some facilities, including the Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo, available for commercial aircraft carrying Olympic squads to increase the number of arrival and departure slots in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Mahoney noted that how to use commercial aircraft at the Yokota base and other U.S. military facilities under the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement has yet to be determined.

But he said that working-level officials of the two countries have started consultations on bilateral cooperation toward the 2020 Games.