Chitose is located in the mid-western part of the Japanese island of Hokkaido. To the west is the mountainous Shikotsu portion of Shikotsu-Toya National Park. To the east are hills utilized for agriculture and forestry.
From 1946, the host site was the U.S. Army 12th Security Agency Field Station (USASAFS) Chitose, Hokkaido, Japan in September 1937, Chitose Airport was established as a Flying Corps Base for the Japanese Navy. From 1939, Chitose was a Japanese Imperial Navy auxiliary airfield; until Japan's surrender in 1945, ending World War II.
In September, 1945, the first U.S. troops, the U.S. Army's 77th Infantry Division, (fought on Okinawa) arrived on Hokkaido. During the period 1945-1949, U.S. Army Security Agency (USASA) operational units arrived at Wakkanai, on the island of Hokkaido, the northernmost city in Japan. The Army Security Agency took over 184 acres, and antennas began sprouting from a 1229-acre stretch of southern Hokkaido, four miles southwest of Chitose.
Beginning in 1946, The 12th USASAFS, was located on the island of Hokkaido under various U.S. Army unit designations. From 1946, the predecessors of the 12th were located at Chitose I, which was occupied successively by elements of the 11th Airborne Division, the 7th Infantry Division, the 45th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division. In April, 1951, USASA operations moved to Kuma Station on Chitose I.
In November 1951, the USASAFS unit was billeted at Chitose II, an area five miles from the Chitose Air Base. This area was a quonset hut development, constructed for the 45th Infantry Division. During 1952, the 45th Infantry Division replaced the 1st Cavalry Division in Korea, and the latter became the 12th's new neighbor.
In the spring of 1954 the 1st Cavalry Division was transferred to Honshu, the main island of Japan, and the Japanese Ground Self Defense Forces occupied this area. The departure of the 1st Cavalry Division, the U.S. Air Force took over support functions for all U.S. forces on Hokkaido. On November 15, 1956, the USASA unit on Kuma Station was redesignated the 12th USASA Field Station (USASAFS).
In 1958, there was a draw down of the U.S. Air Force forces at Chitose AB, and The 12th USASAFS assumed support functions for all U.S. forces on Hokkaido. In December,1967, the 12th USASAFS was redesignated as USASAFS Chitose. On June 30, 1972, the Kuma Station at Chitose was closed and the U.S. Army 12th Security Agency Field Station (USASAFS) at Chitose was disbanded.
Chitose Air Base is now a Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) base located adjacent to the New Chitose Airport. It is the JASDF's primary base in northern Japan and tasked with monitoring Japan's maritime borders with Russia. It was also Hokkaido's primary civilian airport until the opening of New Chitose Airport in 1988. The new airport began operating on July 20, 1988.
Updated 24 Dec 2011