Residents of a non-Japanese American military facility must purchase Japanese toilet paper to ensure that their plumbing works properly, according to the Yokota tower housing maintenance office.
Located western Tokyo, Yokota is the headquarters for US Forces in Japan, the 5th Air Force and the 374th Airlift Wing. The operator of the tower maintenance department on Yakota, Amy Moses, told Stars and Stripes that American multi-ply toilet paper is often to blame for clogging the pipes in the base.
Over time, toilet paper with thicker sheets can return to septic tanks and cause plumbing clogs and even flooding. She adds that, in the long run, to avoid work and frustration for everyone, the ideal is that this type of toilet paper is not used, in addition to also avoid using flushable wipes and putting toilet cleaning tabs in the tank.
The operator also says she receives up to eight calls a day about clogged plumbing – often repeated calls from the same residents -, emphasizes that Japanese branded toilet paper is designed to dissolve more quickly than American branded toilet paper and reports that any any resident who is not willing to relinquish the use of their favorite American brands should at least decrease the amount of paper used and flush twice after using it, which would result in wasted water.
“It would have just been nice to know when I first got here,” she said commenting that she intends to give Japanese brands a chance. “I do a lot of shopping off base anyway, so I really don’t mind. I just wish I didn’t have to find out this way.”
Amy Moses concludes by saying that, in the future, the tower maintenance department is planning to address this issue in the guidelines of the newcomers at the base.
In contrast, at Kadena Air Base, located in Okinawa, and at Yokosuka Naval Base, south of Tokyo, American-brand toilet paper is not a problem, according to sources.
Yokosuka spokesman Randall Baucom told Stars and Stripes that it is not mandatory to use Japanese toilet paper, but that “residents should stop using disposable wipes, or put them in the trash can rather than flushing them.”