YOKOHAMA NORTH DOCK, Japan -- Nine members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force took part in a one-day tour July 13 at Yokohama North Dock to learn about the U.S. Army Japan facility and the mission there.
The Japanese servicemembers belong to the 65th iteration of the U.S. Army and JGSDF Cooperative Work Program, or Co-op, a 10-week program during which they stay at Camp Zama, where U.S. Army Japan is headquartered, to learn about the unit's mission and take part in an intensive language class. It has developed into a top-notch bilateral program since its inception in 1993.
After arriving at North Dock, the group took a tour to get a look at the boats and warehouses there. Lt. Col. Erick Crews, commander of the 836th Transportation Battalion at North Dock, also hosted a command briefing and question-and-answer session.
"The opportunity to participate in formative bilateral engagements such as this is a key to the ongoing positive relationship we have with our Japanese partners," said Crews. "The 836th Transportation Battalion is honored to continue to play a role in the development of the JGSDF Co-op members' experience."
The JGSDF members ate an American-style lunch at nearby Negishi Housing Area, followed by a tour of the Kanagawa Prefecture Headquarters and Yokohama Maritime Disaster Prevention Base.
"It was a good learning experience to see how the U.S. Army puts value on military logistics," said Sgt. 1st Class Yasuhide Egashira, assigned to the Central Readiness Regiment in Camp Utsunomiya and currently sponsored by the 88th Military Police Detachment at Camp Zama. "I am very fortunate for the experiences I am gaining from being a part of this Co-op program.
"My unit is typically assigned abroad, so we take our English-language education seriously," added Egashira. "I highly recommend this program to other members in my unit, because it allows us to maintain a close relationship and work together with U.S. Army Soldiers."
Throughout the Co-op program, the JGSDF members take part in various training events to brush up on their English skills and learn skills vital to U.S. Soldiers, such as oral presentations, battle-focused physical training, and combat lifesaver training.
"I would like to gain not only English skills, but also communication skills -- especially between U.S. Soldiers," said Capt. Noriko Wada, assigned to the medical school at Camp Misyuku and currently sponsored by the BG Sams U.S. Army Health Clinic at Camp Zama. "I hope this experience will help me to support JGSDF and U.S. Army bilateral exercises, such as Yama Sakura."