Flight of B-52 at local air show is canceled

by Yasuyoshi Hirota, Staff Writer

On May 1 it was learned that a B-52 strategic bomber, a huge aircraft that planned to take flight for the air show during the Iwakuni Friendship Day, to be held at the U.S. military base in Iwakuni on May 5, has been grounded. The B-52 has the capability to carry nuclear weapons and governments in the area and organizations of A-bomb survivors had been calling for the cancellation of this demonstration flight.

According to Iwakuni city officials, the Public Affairs Office of the Marine Corps Air Station delivered word of the flight's cancellation in a phone call on the morning of April 30. In a fax to the Chugoku Shimbun, the Public Affairs Office stated that the cancellation was “due to a schedule conflict” and that “flight demonstrations are scheduled and, therefore, subject to change.”

The Public Affairs Office had announced on April 16 that the B-52 would fly from Guam to the Air Station in Iwakuni, soaring low over the runway to showcase its massive size, as large as a jumbo jet.

In reaction to this announcement, the cities of Hiroshima and Hatsukaichi, the government of Hiroshima Prefecture, and various organizations in Hiroshima and Yamaguchi, including groups of A-bomb survivors, made requests to the Air Station and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the flight be canceled. The city of Iwakuni, which received the same request from local citizens groups, did not seek a cancellation, responding that “It would only be a one-day event.”

Masaki Teranaka, leader of a group of second-generation A-bomb survivors in Yamaguchi, commented, “I think the U.S. wanted people in Japan to get used to the idea of nuclear weapons, but they couldn't ignore the public's strong opposition to their plan.”