Ambassador Kennedy makes first visit to Iwakuni and U.S. Marine Corps Station

by Kanako Noda, Staff Writer

On January 28, Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, made her first visit to the city of Iwakuni to inspect the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. The ambassador praised Iwakuni as “a model for the alliance between Japan and the United States” and expressed her gratitude to Iwakuni citizens for building good relations with American soldiers.

As a result of the realignment of U.S. military forces, 59 carrier-based airplanes are expected to be transferred from the Atsugi Naval Air Station, located in Kanagawa Prefecture, to the Iwakuni base by around 2017. Ms. Kennedy inspected the construction work being done to accommodate the planes at the base and the KC-130 aerial refueling plane which was moved from the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, located in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, in August 2014. Commenting on the construction work taking place to meet the realignment of U.S. forces, Ms. Kennedy said she was very impressed with the progress being made.

Ms. Kennedy also said that the Japan-U.S. alliance is the cornerstone of peace, stability, and prosperity for the region and that Iwakuni is a model for regional communities. She said she is grateful to Iwakuni citizens and Yoshihiko Fukuda, the mayor of Iwakuni.

After visiting the base, Ms. Kennedy crossed the Kintaikyo Bridge and visited the Imazu White Snakes Museum, a facility where unique white snakes, designated a national treasure, are kept. Mayor Fukuda, who escorted the ambassador, noted, “Ambassador Kennedy has said that she is eager to cooperate with the city of Iwakuni in order to strengthen ties between Japan and the United States. I feel confident that we can pursue projects which will utilize the U.S. base for the development of our community in such areas as tourism and education.”

(Originally published on January 29, 2016)