• Lt. Gen. Takeshi Sakai, commanding general, Northern Army, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, addresses the troops while Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, commanding general, United States Army, Pacific, looks on during the opening ceremony for Yama Sakura 57. More than 1,500 U.S. military personnel and nearly 3,500 members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force are taking part in the exercise from Dec. 7-13. Yama Sakura, which means "mountain cherry blossom," is an annual, bilateral exercise designed to strengthen military operations and ties between the U.S. Army and the JGSDF.

    Military exercise opens in spirit of friendship

    Lt. Gen. Takeshi Sakai, commanding general, Northern Army, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, addresses the troops while Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, commanding general, United States Army, Pacific, looks on during the opening ceremony for Yama Sakura 57...

  • Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, commanding general, United States Army, Pacific, and Lt. Gen. Takeshi Sakai, commanding general, Northern Army, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, shake hands to conclude the opening ceremony of Exercise Yama Sakura 57. More than 1,500 U.S. military personnel and nearly 3,500 members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force are taking part in the exercise from Dec. 7-13. Yama Sakura, which means "mountain cherry blossom," is an annual, bilateral exercise designed to strengthen military operations and ties between the U.S. Army and the JGSDF.

    Military exercise opens in spirit of friendship

    Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, commanding general, United States Army, Pacific, and Lt. Gen. Takeshi Sakai, commanding general, Northern Army, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, shake hands to conclude the opening ceremony of Exercise Yama Sakura 57. More...

CAMP HIGASHI-CHITOSE, Japan (Dec. 7, 2009) -- On a bitterly cold December afternoon, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and U.S. Armed Forces opened Yama Sakura 57 in a ceremony that demonstrated the warmth of a 50-year friendship.

The JGSDF Northern Army hosted the ceremony and the exercise. Assembled for the United States were representatives of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Army Reserve and National Guard units from more than a dozen states.

"This exercise proves the strength of the long-standing relationship between the U.S. and Japan," said Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commanding general, United States Army, Pacific.

"In order to further improve our bilateral response capabilities," said Lt. Gen. Takeshi Sakai, commanding general of the JGSDF Northern Army, "I request that you all make coordination between our forces and make bold, daring attempts to meet new challenges without fear of mistakes."

"We will prepare ourselves for future threats and enhance our relationship, as well as gain a greater understanding of civil-military operations," concluded Mixon.

More than 5,700 personnel will participate in the exercise. Yama Sakura, which means "mountain cherry blossom," is an annual joint and combined full-spectrum training exercise. Since its start in 1982, Yama Sakura has focused on the refinement of bilateral planning, coordination, and interoperability.

The exercise has four objectives: the exchange of ideas, techniques, and military experience; training U.S. forces for deployment to Japan; the exercise of JSDF and U.S. forces in the defense of Japan; and preparation of USARPAC forces for combined, multi-national and joint full-spectrum operations.

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