News: Civil aviation returns to Iwakuni after 48 years
Story by Lance Cpl. Benjamin Pryer
IWAKUNI, Japan - The Osaka Civil Aviation Bureau (OCAB), the Fukuoka District Meteorological Observatory (FDMO), the Chugoku Shikoku Defense Bureau (CSDB) and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni conducted the Local Implementation Agreements Signature Ceremony inside Building One here, Nov. 27, 2012.
On Oct. 28, 2005, the Japan/United States Joint Committee agreed to allow civil aviation operations of four round-trip flights to and from Tokyo per day at MCAS Iwakuni. The next day, the Japan and United States Security and Consultative Committee approved recommendations for the development of facilities necessary to support said civil aviation operations.
“This demonstrates the strong bond between the local community, the central government and the U.S. forces in Japan, and it demonstrates, through great teamwork and dedication and perseverance, that great magic and unique opportunities can be created that benefit the citizens, not just of the military organizations and installations here in japan, but of the local community, of which we are an integral part,” said Col. James C. Stewart, MCAS Iwakuni commanding officer. “The significance for both Iwakuni, as well as for the local community, is that this signing agreement represents the culmination of seven years of strong negotiation, strong teamwork and dedication to a cause that will benefit both the local community, as well as the military residents. What it does is underlies and establishes the business rules for safe and efficient civil aviation operations to be interleaved with our current military operations.”
Under the provisions of Paragraph 4(a) of Article II of the Status of Forces Agreement, the Joint Committee, on Nov. 1, 2012, approved joint use of portions of MCAS Iwakuni for said civil aviation operations.
Joint use will be granted to OCAB and FDMO in order to conduct civil aviation operations.
“What this affords us is an opening of opportunities for both local citizens, as well as military residents, to explore throughout Japan and connect the Kanto plain outside of Tokyo with local airports here in the Yamaguchi prefecture, so it really serves as a bridge of connecting western Japan with central Japan,” said Stewart.
The official opening of the airport is scheduled to be held Dec. 9. The first passenger flights will be Dec. 13.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the many, many people, and generations of individuals on both the U.S. side and the Japanese side that have seen these efforts bear fruit today in the signing of these agreements,” said Col. James C. Stewart, MCAS Iwakuni commanding officer. “It is only through their sacrifice and dedication that we can bring this capability to Iwakuni.”