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Brief History of U.S. Army Japan

United States Army Japan (USARJ) can be traced back to the U.S. Army Forces, Far East, which was formed in Manila July 26, 1941. Commanded by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, the headquarters moved to Australia in March 1942. After the war, the headquarters first moved to Tokyo, then to Yokohama in 1950, and finally to its present location on Camp Zama in October 1953.

On July 1, 1957, a U.S. Forces reorganization in the Pacific designated USARJ as one of the major subordinate commands of U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) in Hawaii. Reorganized again on September 1, 1969, USARJ employed a new structure to maximize operational efficiency while keeping its existing missions and functions.

The reversion of Okinawa to Japanese control on May 15, 1972, resulted in the realignment of the Pacific Army commands with USARJ absorbing elements for Okinawa and providing improved structure for command and control. Under the complex reversion, IX Corps was transferred from Okinawa and collocated with this command to form USARJ/IX Corps on June 30.

A USARJ reorganization established three subordinate commands on July 1, 1974: U.S. Army Garrison, Honshu (USAGH); U.S. Army Garrison, Okinawa (USAGO); and the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity-Japan, (MEDDAC-JAPAN). With the discontinuance of USARPAC, USARJ was designated a major Army command on January 1, 1975, reporting directly to Department of the Army.

On August 30, 1990, USARPAC was reestablished and USARJ became a major subordinate command of that headquarters while continuing as the Army Component Command of U.S. Forces, Japan (USFJ).

On November 1, 1994, 9th Theater Army Area Command (TAACOM) was activated to enhance USARJ’s ability to perform its two main missions: defense of Japan and support regional contingencies with logistics bases in mainland Japan and Okinawa.

A year later on November 15, 1995, IX Corps inactivated and duties were fully absorbed by 9th TAACOM which was later redesignated 9th Theater Support Command (TSC) on October 16, 2000, and inactivated September 15, 2007. I Corps (Forward) was organized and activated on November 25, 2009, in line with the Army’s transformation efforts.

On March 11, 2011, a devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck the northeast coast of Japan. USARJ immediately began humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support to the JGSDF during Operation Tomodachi, Japan’s largest-ever bilateral operation.

A magnitude 6.2 foreshock on April 14, 2016, and magnitude 7.3 earthquake the next day struck Kumamoto City in the Kyushu region. A USARJ team already at Kumamoto initiated U.S. forces support with a USARJ UC-35 aircraft being the first U.S. military flight to arrive.