Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni is an air station operated by the United States Marine Corps in Japan. The installation is located in Iwakuni, in the Yamaguchi prefecture. It is only 2.5 kilometers away from a different facility – Iwakuni Station, in the delta of the Nishiki River. The base is commanded by Colonel James C. Stewart.
The history of MCAS Iwakuni began under the Japanese domination. The government acquired a huge area in the immediate proximity of the city in 1938. Its purpose was to establish a powerful air station, as the country was quickly strengthening for World War II. The base was finished on July, 8-th, 1940 and ready for war. As World War II began, the site had two clear purposes – to train the finest elite warfighters and to deal with the local defense. There were almost 100 professional trainers and around 150 Zero aircrafts hosted there. In 1943, as World War II was advancing, the authorities decided to work on the base and improved it a little, especially after they brought in a small part of the Etajima Naval Academy. There were more than 1,000 aspirants training at the academy when it was relocated. They all got to the new installation.
MCAS Iwakuni went through severe bombing attacks two times, in 1945. The B 29 American bombers were mostly targeting the access ways, such as the roads, the rail or the train stations. They also aimed at the local oil refinery. Their purpose was to isolate the base and indirectly kill its active role in World War II. A final raid took place one day before the V Day, when Japan surrendered to the allied forces. The first American troops who joined the site were a few Marines. They signed the documents and dealt with all the paperwork regarding the Japanese withdrawal. Soon after the war ended, multiple forces came and left it as it was slowly getting repaired. The installation hosted American, Australian, British and New Zealander troops. In 1948, the base was taken over by Australia, but handed to the United States of America four years later, in 1952. The Americans were already using the base starting with 1950. They found it useful for the conflict in Korea.
In 1966, multiple nuclear weapons were transferred to MCAS Iwakuni from another base from Okinawa. No one knew about them, except for the high ranked officials. The Americans broke the terms of an agreement they had with Japan. When the US ambassador found out about them, he threatened to make it public. Surprisingly enough, the ambassador lived and the weapons were taken away. This fact was made public in 2010 only. Another negative incident in the history of MCAS Iwakuni occurred in 1970, when plenty of soldiers had the power to foresee the abuses made by the United States of America during the Vietnam War. They raised a riot, but the war went on.
These days, the acitivity at MCAS Iwakuni is not as intense anymore, while the base is in an unofficial standby mode.