YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Three U.S. Naval and six Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) officers completed a four day officer exchange program in Maizuru, Japan Sep. 30.
The exchange was held in conjunction with junior officers from the U.S. Navy, JMSDF and the city of Maizuru.
The program was designed to strengthen the bilateral partnership of American and Japan, while participants experienced local attractions that Maizuru has to offer.
Rear Adm. Yuki Sekiguchi, Headquarter Maizuru District chief of staff, spearheaded the revival of the officer exchange program and explained the idea behind the program.
“This program is designed to bring U.S. Navy young (junior) officers, Kaijo Jieitai (JMSDF) young (junior) officers and college students to interact with the citizens of Maizuru city,” said Sekiguchi. “The program is three days spent together interacting (participants with each other) visiting local tourist spots such as Funaya and Kaybuki-No-Sato. We expect those friendships will make Maizuru great again.”
Over the course of four days, participants took part in 16 event designed to strengthen U.S. Navy and JMSDF ties and also explored the cultural importance of the city of Maizuru. In one of those events, local Maizuru families invited participants to come to their house and have dinner with them.
“They were very welcoming,” said Lt. j. g. Joseph Anderson, Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka customer service officer. “We felt very welcomed into their home and family. This is a fantastic program were we learned a lot from each other, it’s an amazing opportunity you wouldn’t get working day to day in an office.”
In addition to visiting attractions and eating dinner provided by local host families, participants were given a tour of the Imperial Navy Memorial Hall, the JS Atago (DDG 177) and the JMSDF Helicopter Squadron 23 base solidifying the strategic and historical value of the area.
With the initial program hailed a success, Sekiguchi explained there was already interest for another even larger exchange in the future.
“This is not the last program,” said Sekiguchi. “This is a continuous program and you guys (participants) are now staff members for promoting this program. We all work together to make this program even better.”
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