The commander of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, assured the governor of Hiroshima prefecture recently that a Marine patrol boat intended no threat to a fisherman during a Jan. 5 incident.

Col. Michael Dyer met with Gov. Yuzan Fujita at the prefectural office building on Friday. A Marine spokesman said the incident was one of several issues discussed during the visit.

“We feel that we had a successful meeting with the governor, and we hope to have more in the future,” said Maj. Stewart Upton, MCAS Iwakuni spokesman.

The captain of a Japanese fishing boat in the Seto Island Sea off Etajima reported that a Marine patrol boat approached his craft the afternoon of Jan. 5 and a Marine pointed a rifle at him. He reported the incident to the Japanese coast guard.

The incident occurred about 8 miles east of MCAS Iwakuni’s restricted sea zone.

Dyer told the governor that the crew of the patrol boat was just trying to get close enough to the fishing boat to read the boat’s identification number after spotting a fishing boat dumping something into the restricted waters of the air station.

The patrol boat was manned by a sailor and a Marine, who stood in the bow of the boat and had a rifle slung over his shoulder with the muzzle pointed to the ground, Dyer told the governor, according to Yoshibumi Tominaga, chief of the prefectural international relations office.

Dyer told the governor that the Marine never released his hand from the grip of the rifle or pointed it at the fisherman, Tominaga said.

“However, he said it could have been taken as the fisherman described,” Tominaga said.

“The commander expressed regret over the incident,” Fujita said in a statement released after the visit.

“I filed a strong request with the commander to give maximum consideration for not creating anxiety among the local residents,” he said. He suggested the Marines “avoid excessive patrol activities.”

“There still remains a discrepancy between the stories from both sides,” he said.

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