U.S. and Japanese drivers associated with Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni have been asked to avoid side streets leading off the larger Defense Road.

The request, from the Iwakuni Defense Facilities Administration Office, was prompted by concerns from a residential association in the Asahimachi neighborhood outside Iwakuni’s north gate, according to Takeshi Iwamoto, DFAO’s facilities division chief.

The residents asked for help preventing accidents and congestion on tiny roads in the area.

At times, the main road becomes congested, prompting some trucks and other vehicles to use the narrow back streets as shortcuts. But the city is planning to widen some of those roads, and the added construction could cause more problems.

“It is very dangerous, especially when large vehicles drive through,” Iwamoto said. “They are public roads, so we cannot tell people not to enter or go through.”

Accordingly, avoiding the side streets is not mandatory, but the agency is asking for cooperation.

The base has complied by publishing notices advising drivers to stick to the main road, said Iwakuni spokeswoman Master Sgt. Lesli Coakley.

The DFAO also is asking base workers, Japan Self-Defense Force members and Japanese contractors not to use the small back streets, where large trucks can be dangerous.

“We want to be good neighbors,” Coakley said. “If you don’t live in that neighborhood, you shouldn’t be driving there.”

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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