OKINAWA, Japan – Sailors from Commander Fleet Activities Okinawa, Commander Task Force 76, tenant commands and their families met Soldiers from the 15th Brigade of the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) Feb. 8-9, to tour each other’s base and participate in cultural exchange.
The event enhanced communications between the allied militaries on Okinawa and included language exchange, housing unit tours and meals.
“This opportunity was great to enhance our friendship,” said Capt. Noriyoshi Ishizuka, liason officer for the 15th Brigade.
Ishizuka said events such as these help strengthen the bond Japanese forces have with the U.S.
On the first day, there were language exchange activities. More than 20 people participated in the exchange as they sat in seats and engaged in friendly conversation.
“It was a great opportunity,” said Yolanda Morris, CFAO’s Ombudsman. “I really enjoyed myself and enjoyed speaking with the guys here in the Army, learning something new about them and sharing our cultures with each other. I was surprised at the similarities that we all have in common. I'm looking forward to the next event where we get to do this again.”
“We appreciate the U.S. Navy's support including the family members,” said Master Sgt. Masayoshi Kamoshida, liason NCO of the 15th Brigade. “We were surprised because we didn’t think that the spouses were also going to come to the class but they did.”
Following the language exchange, the Japanese soldiers toured barracks where they had a look at Sailors rooms and amenities. Lunch was held on base at Bama’s restaurant.
“I got a very good experience, and it makes me want to learn more about the Navy,” said Sgt. First Class Junichi Sakugawa. “I want to continue to study English.”
The second day included a tour of Camp Naha, home of the 15th Brigade. Sailors toured the brigade’s headquarters, museum, soldier’s barracks and had lunch on the premises.
“It's an amazing opportunity to be able to exchange cultural ideas and conversation with our counterparts at the JGSDF,” said Legalman 2nd Class Jacob Johnson of CFAO’s legal department.
“Today was fun,” said Sgt. Yuta Imamura. “This conversation class was a very good opportunity to enhance our English skills, so I really appreciate it and thank you very much.”
Ishizuka said this quarterly cultural exchange helps break the ice between the two forces and makes working together easier down the road.
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