LOCATION: Iwakuni lies at the eastern end of Yamaguchi Prefecture. Its southeastern part faces the Inland Sea and its northern part adjoins Otake City in Hiroshima Prefecture. The city is backed by mountains and its front borders the Seto Inland Sea for a distance of some 1.3 kilometers. Iwakuni is located 300 miles West of Osaka and 30 miles from Hiroshima. Tokyo is 600 miles East of Iwakuni. Iwakuni is in time zone I, zulu plus nine hours (i.e., 14 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, see "Time Zone Chart"). Subtract one hour during day-light savings time.
MAJOR COMMANDS: HEADQUARTERS AND HEADQUARTERS SQUADRON; MWSS-171; 11TH DENTAL CO DET, 3RD DENTAL BN; NAVAL HOSPITAL BRANCH CLINIC; MAG-12; MALS-12; VFMA-212 AND CSSD-36.
PRIMARY MISSION OF INSTALLATION: To maintain and operate facilities, provide installation services and materials to support operations of a Marine Aircraft Wing or units thereof, and other activities and units designated by the Commandant of the Marine Corps in coordination with the Chief of Naval Operations.
POPULATION: Served-4,747; Active Duty Officers-243; Active Duty Enlisted-2,425; Family Members-1,854; Retirees-78; Civilian Employees-225; Japanese Employees- 4,911
TELEPHONE ACCESS: Unless otherwise specified, all phone numbers listed in SITES are DSN and can only be dialed from a DSN line or from on base. To call commercially from the U.S., dial the base operator and ask for extension 253-XXXX. (011 is the code to dial overseas, 81 is the country code for Japan, and 6117 is the area code for Iwakuni).
BASE OPERATOR: 011-81-6117-53 XXXX(ext.)
CALLING FROM WITHIN JAPAN: Long Distance: 0827-21-4171 XXXX(ext.)
Local: 21-4171 XXXX (ext.)
PUBLIC PHONES: Public telephones are found just about everywhere in Japan. Yellow and green telephones accept both 10 Yen and 100 Yen coins. Red phones accept 10 Yen coins only. Green phones also accept magnetic, prepaid telephone cards. You can place person-to-person, collect and credit card calls only through KDD (Japanese phone company) by dialing 0051 from anywhere in Japan.
HISTORY: Three hundred fifty years ago, the waters of the Inland Sea rolled over the area where aircraft wheels now screech across Iwakuni's airstrip. Fish swam nonchalantly over the spot where the main gate now stands. The land here has been wrestled from the ocean's grasp through hundreds of years of effort on the part of generations of "Japanese Dutchmen."
It's all part of Iwakuni's "ancient history"---the seldom told story of how the present Air Station came to be.
It was back at the beginning of the 1600's that the feudal lord Kikkawa, a supporter of the defeated Shogun, was banished to remote Iwakuni for having made the error of supporting the losing side. After building himself a castle on Shiroyama, the mountain west of Kintai Bridge, Kikkawa looked around and found that he was a very poor lord indeed. His land was officially valued (and taxable) at 60,000 koku of rice (one koku equals 4.96 bushels), but the land yielded 35,000 koku. In order to improve the situation, Kikkawa ordered his subjects to cultivate the hillsides and reclaim land along the sea front. The reclamation program has gone on ever since, with the largest area of reclaimed land being the Kawashimo delta on which MCAS Iwakuni is built. Nearly 2,000 acres of the delta have been taken back from the sea.
The reclaimed area was all farmland and village until the Japanese government bought a large portion of it in 1938, with the aim of establishing a Naval Air Station. The new base was commissioned July 8, 1940. When World War II started, the Iwakuni air station was used as a training and defense base. Ninety six trainers and 150 Zero fighter planes were stationed on the airstrip; but, contrary to popular belief, no Kamikazes were based at Iwakuni. In September 1943, a branch of the Etajima Naval Academy was established here, with approximately 1,000 cadets undergoing training in the Basic, Junior, and Senior Officer's schools at any one time. American B-29's bombed Iwakuni in May and August of 1945, concentrating on the oil refinery and RTO (train station) areas. The last air raid took place just a day before the war ended.
The first Allies to reach Iwakuni at war's end were a group of U.S. Marines who had the papers signed ending the conflict for the Japanese air base.
After the end of World War II, various military forces from the United States, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand occupied the base, and it was designated a Royal Australian Air Force Base in 1948.
When the Korean Conflict started in 1950, units from the Royal Navy and U.S. Air Force arrived at Iwakuni as United Nations forces. Jets flew daily to support front line troops in Korea, returning each evening to refuel and rearm. The troop processing center located here throughout the war earned Iwakuni the title, "Gateway to Korea."
The U.S. Air Force took command of the station April 1, 1952. During its period of command, the Air Force did much to improve the base's facilities. The U.S. Navy took over the station on October 1, 1954. NAS Iwakuni was greatly enlarged in July 1956 when the First Marine Aircraft Wing moved its headquarters here from Korea. A whole new area was procured on the north side of the station to make room for approximately 2,500 incoming Marines.
The station, which is approximately 1400 acres, was officially designated as USMC Air Station Iwakuni in 1962. Its mission includes support of operations, maintenance and supply of tenant units and ships calling here.
Tenant units stationed here include units of the 1st MAW and 3rd FSSG, headquartered on Okinawa, as well as Fleet Air Wing 31 and other units of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF). At present, the station has about 10,000 personnel, including Japanese national employees.
During the last few years, a continuous construction and renovation program has been underway, providing such improvements as new family housing units, Crossroads Mall, a new Community Services building, and a new combined club.