Officials at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, Japan, met Friday with representatives from Kanokawa Fishery Cooperative Association and a local fisherman and apologized for any concerns that arose from a Jan. 5 incident involving a base patrol craft carrying an armed servicemember.

An unidentified boat entered the restricted zone of Iwakuni Harbor between the base and the open sea around noon that day, base officials said. An Iwakuni Surface Division patrol craft “went to investigate and document the hull number,” base spokeswoman Master Sgt. Lesli Coakley said Friday.

The Japan 6th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters’ operations center received a call from a fishing boat captain that afternoon, a coast guard press release stated. The release stated that the caller reported that “a black man on a boat” flying the U.S. flag “pointed a machine gun at him … ”

Surface Division sailors operate patrol boats that can cut through the water around 40 miles per hour. When on patrol, an armed Marine security officer rides along.

“We have to do all that we possibly can to protect our air station and our neighbors,” Coakley said. “The Marine patrol boat and the fishing boat met at about 7.5 miles outside the off-limits sea zone. Nobody pointed any weapon at anybody.”

The restricted area around the harbor is open to Japanese fishermen — with some conditions.

“The base has a joint agreement with Iwakuni City to let the Japanese fish in the area, and fishermen fly proper flags and pennants to let us know who they are and what they’re doing,” a Surface Division sailor said in a previous Stars and Stripes report.

Coakely said there was a fishing vessel in the area and the sailors, “circled around it, got its hull number, and left. Again, at no time did a servicemember point a weapon.”

The Japan 6th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters is investigating the incident, its release noted.

The Iwakuni officials met with Norinobu Yoshioka, secretary of the Kanokawa Fishery Cooperative Association, and the fisherman on Friday.

“We want to strongly convey how regrettable this incident is, and we apologize for any anxiety this may have caused,” Coakley said. “We agree with the fishermen’s association and our hope that such incidents will not happen in the future.”

Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now