History: Castles in the Far East

The Japan Engineer District (JED) is one of the four districts in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pacific Ocean Division. JED began its operations on May 15, 1972, but its origins lie amid the destruction left by World War II. From 1945 to 1957, engineer work in Japan was carried out by military units such as the 8th Army Engineers, the 5th Air Force Engineers, and the U.S. Army Construction Agency, Japan.

During this early period, the engineer units concentrated on essential construction to support American forces. Military engineers were responsible for much of the early reconstruction in Tokyo and on bases throughout Japan. Priorities were repairing damaged highways, landing strips, and utility systems and constructing housing and hospital facilities for U.S. forces.

When the Korean War began on June 25, 1950, the engineer mission underwent a rapid transition from postwar construction to active support of the United Nations forces in Korea. The American bases in Japan were vital to the war effort and the pace of construction increased.

On July 15, 1957, the Far East District was established in Seoul with construction responsibilities in Korea and Japan. At that time, the Department of Defense directed that military construction for all services be consolidated under the Corps of Engineers and nascent JED moved to Camp Zama, where it operated as Far East District (Rear).

During this time, the Corps was also operating from the Okinawa Engineer District. Both the Okinawa District and Far East District (Rear) were involved in the Vietnam War effort, with major construction projects on Okinawa, Japan, and Taiwan. At the end of the war, FED, FED (Rear), and the Okinawa Engineer District were merged to form the Office of the Deputy Division Engineer for Western Pacific (WESTPAC). JED came into being when WESTPAC was abolished in 1972.

With an initial strength of 105 people, the district has grown to a workforce of more than 460 personnel including Japanese and U.S. Citizens working together with the Government of Japan. Geographically, JED is one of the largest of the 45 districts in the Corps of Engineers, stretching 1550 miles from north to south; JED manages the largest Host Nation funded design and construction program in the world.