Department Ends Voluntary Departure Authorization From Japan

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2011 — The Defense Department’s vol­un­tary autho­rized depar­tures for ser­vice mem­bers’ eli­gi­ble fam­i­ly mem­bers to leave Japan in the after­math of the March 11 earth­quake effec­tive­ly end­ed today.
“The Defense Depart­ment con­curs with the State Department’s deter­mi­na­tion that the sit­u­a­tion in Japan does not pose sig­nif­i­cant risk to U.S. cit­i­zens,” a Pen­ta­gon spokes­woman said. “We will con­tin­ue to ensure the safe­ty of our fam­i­lies is at the fore­front of every deci­sion we make.”

The DOD ter­mi­na­tion fol­lows the State Department’s lift­ing of the vol­un­tary depar­ture order for DOD eli­gi­ble fam­i­ly mem­bers to depart from Hon­shu, Japan.

More than 7,800 fam­i­ly mem­bers sta­tioned at U.S. mil­i­tary bases through­out Japan were flown to var­i­ous U.S. loca­tions fol­low­ing the mag­ni­tude 9.0 earth­quake, the tsuna­mi it caused, and sub­se­quent prob­lems with sev­er­al of Japan’s nuclear reac­tors.

Fam­i­ly mem­bers who left Japan under the vol­un­tary autho­rized depar­tures or who were pre­vent­ed from return­ing dur­ing the cri­sis may now return, except those whose mil­i­tary spon­sor will have a per­ma­nent-change-of-sta­tion move out of Japan with­in 60 days — unless they have ser­vice sec­re­tary approval. This also applies to fam­i­lies of civil­ian employ­ees who are with­in 30 days of reas­sign­ment, Navy Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde said.

Pay allowances relat­ed to the depar­tures will con­tin­ue for fam­i­lies who fall under those excep­tions, offi­cials said. Depar­ture-relat­ed allowances for oth­ers will end April 25.

Fam­i­ly mem­bers who depart­ed under the autho­rized depar­tures, or whose trav­el was inter­rupt­ed to Japan, and who decide not to return to their sponsor’s pri­ma­ry duty sta­tion, may be autho­rized move­ment to a des­ig­nat­ed place under ear­ly return author­i­ty or may use the sponsor’s PCS orders to trav­el to the next per­ma­nent duty sta­tion, Hull-Ryde said.

Fam­i­ly mem­bers who used the autho­riza­tions with a com­mand-spon­sored, school-aged depen­dent, may remain with the child at their tem­po­rary loca­tion until the end of the cur­rent school semes­ter. Depar­ture-relat­ed allowances for these fam­i­lies will end the day after the last day of the school semes­ter, she said.

Ser­vice mem­bers whose fam­i­lies depart­ed Japan under the autho­riza­tion are allowed return trans­porta­tion at gov­ern­ment expense and quar­an­tine of two house­hold pets to the evac­u­at­ed duty sta­tion in Japan. Civil­ian employ­ee depen­dents must return pets at their own expense, she said.

Hard­ship duty pay in effect through­out Japan will end May 1, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials said. For civil­ians, the 10 per­cent post-hard­ship dif­fer­en­tial pay will end at the begin­ning of the next pay peri­od, Hull-Ryde said.

Ter­mi­na­tion of fam­i­ly sep­a­ra­tion allowances will vary, but gen­er­al­ly will end when depen­dents are no longer autho­rized to receive depar­ture-relat­ed allowances, they said.

The U.S. mil­i­tary respond­ed to the dis­as­ter with some 20,000 troops, 140 air­craft and at least 20 ships in sup­port of Oper­a­tion Tomodachi. While no ships are direct­ly sup­port­ing the oper­a­tion today, U.S. forces remain ready to help, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials have said. Sev­er­al ships are for­ward deployed to Japan as part of reg­u­lar oper­a­tions, and some 50,000 U.S. troops are based there.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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