Ambassador William Hagerty, U.S. ambassador to Japan, visited Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and Iwakuni City, Japan, officially for the first time, Nov. 30, 2017.
Hagerty visited MCAS Iwakuni to better understand the transformation of the installation resulting from the many construction projects driven by the Defense Policy Review Initiative.
The ambassador started his visit at the air traffic control tower for a panoramic view of what the progress of construction costing approximately $3 million dollars a day looks like from above.
Next, Hagerty visited with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Air Rescue Squadron 71 personnel at their hangar and toured inside a US-2 Search and Rescue Amphibian aircraft to better understand their role as part of the air station.
“I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation to our U.S. military as well as the Japan Self-Defense Force of whom I met today,” said Hagerty. “They stand every day at the ready to defend this country, this region and our people.”
He then met Marines with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152 and toured the squadron’s hangar, gaining insight on the capabilities of the squadron in the Pacific area of responsibility and spoke to the Marines on their efforts in developing a positive relationship between Japan and the U.S.
“I want you to know that from the bottom of my heart; I appreciate what you do – the sacrifices you make each and every day,” said Hagerty. “I also appreciate the job that you do as ambassadors yourselves here in Japan. I know each of you make contributions in the local community, whether it be helping somebody whose car got stuck in the mud at a Formula One race or what you do for the local schools here. I very much appreciate that, and I want you to know that it has influence well beyond the immediate here and it also makes it possible for us to achieve larger and more diplomatic objectives that are critically important.”
Afterward, Hagerty was accompanied by Yoshihiko Fukuda, mayor of Iwakuni City, during a visit to Kizuna Stadium, where they played a short game of catch in the outfield and ceremonially planted Dogwoods trees outside the stadium. Proceeding the planting, Hagerty made a speech to the members of the press expressing his gratitude.
“It is my great pleasure meeting Mayor Fukuda today, discussing with him the many great things that our people do together here,” said Hagerty. “This stadium is a testament to our friendship and to our bonds. It was a great honor for me to be here today to plant a Dogwood from my home state, right here, in your home. I also have the greatest respect for the people of Iwakuni, who are our great friends and allies in this effort. I feel the wonderful bonds between the citizens of Iwakuni and our Marine forces here in the area. I look forward to visiting again, and I want to thank Mayor Fukuda for the hospitality and friendship that he has shown today.”