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MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — Base commander Col. Michael Dyer agreed last week with the Iwakuni city mayor’s request to notify the city of flights outside normal 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. flight hours.

In their 90-minute on-post meeting, Mayor Katsusuke Ihara also asked that aircraft not fly above factories on the runway’s north side, saying such flights are dangerous, said Nobuyuki Takashima, who oversees city-base affairs for Iwakuni city.

“Since the meeting, we have notified the city of operations outside of normal hours between three and five times and will continue to do so,” said Maj. Stewart Upton, air station spokesman.

Before the meeting, the air station received one formal complaint from the city for flying over the industrial area. The issue was discussed with the mayor and clarified, Upton said.

“Safety is our primary concern when operating aircraft,” he said. Normal aircraft approaches or take-offs do not affect the local industrial area just beyond the runway’s north end, Upton said. “But when there are high winds in the opposite direction … approaches must be made from the north end of the runway for safety reasons, requiring flight over the southeastern corner of the industrial area.”

Such landings are “rare,” the spokesman said, but will continue until the projected 2009-2010 completion of a project to relocate the runway.

Ihara also told the base commander “for the first time” that city government opposes unconfirmed plans reported in Japanese newspapers to relocate Carrier Air Wing 5, as well as night landing practice, from Atsugi Naval Air Facility to Iwakuni, Takashima said.

Upton said Dyer agreed to pass along the mayor’s position to his immediate superiors.

But there are no decisions or plans to oppose, a U.S. Forces Japan spokesman asserted. “Also, there is no information about what they (U.S. and Japanese officials) might negotiate. So these are simply rumors,” the spokesman said.

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