JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.70


Wakkanai - The Northernmost City in Japan -

Wakkanai ? The Northernmost City in Japan ?

Wakkanai City is located at the northernmost point of Japan and is a popular tourist destination. The city faces the Okhotsk Sea to the east and the Sea of Japan to the west, providing ample fishing grounds. The area also has many dairy farms. Wakkanai was named after the indigenous Ainu word “Yam-wakka-nay” meaning “cold water river” and Cape Soya, which extends from the city north into the ocean, is a favorite place to visit by tourists.

As for the meteorological environment of Wakkanai, a special heavy snowfall area, it receives heavy snowfall in the winter and its average daily temperature is 7 degrees Celsius. During the winter, when low temperatures can reach negative 10 to 14 degrees Celsius, floating ice occasionally makes its way to Cape Soya.

Vice-Camp Wakkanai, located in Wakkanai, houses units from the GSDF, MSDF, and ASDF, making it one of the few bases in Japan to do so. Initially, in December 1954, the Northern Aircraft Training and Warning Wing (currently the 18th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron) took over a former U.S. military base here, and later in 1979 the Vice-Camp Wakkanai Unit was assigned there, creating a base where all three services of the SDF are represented. Rebun Island, some 40 kilometers to the west of Wakkanai, is home to Vice-Camp Rebun, which is the northernmost SDF installation in Japan. The GSDF 301st Coast Observation Unit and other units are stationed here.

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