Soldiers bridge communication barrier through understanding, cooperation
Master Sgt. Clarinda J. Marion, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., discusses exercise Yama Sakura 59 with her Japanese counterparts, at Camp Kengun, Japan. Yama Sakura is an annual, bilateral exercise with Japanese forces and the U. S. military. This year's exercise is a simulation-driven, joint-bilateral, command post exercise and is the 29th iteration of the Japan-based exercise series.

CAMP KENGUN, Japan -- About 69 Soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., arrived in early January in Japan to participate in Yama Sakura 59, an annual bilateral exercise between the U.S. and Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces.

Tired from their 24-hour journey, the Soldiers remained in good spirits as they arrived at Camp Kengun, Japan, to assist in final preparations prior to the official start of the exercise.

"I want you to have mutual understanding and build confidence with each other in order to accomplish our mission as one team," said Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, the United States Army Pacific commander.

The culture shock for some was, at first, overwhelming, and the communication barrier was evident. With the help of translators and mutual cooperation and patience, the issue was overcome quickly.

"I find that communication was indeed a barrier, but our counterparts are intelligent people and made things very easy for us by providing interpreters to bridge that gap," said Master Sgt. Clarinda J. Marion, Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Marion added that although there is a language barrier, the Japanese soldiers' friendly nature and attention to detail created a great working environment.

"Although the way we work is different from our counterparts, this is a great chance for us to learn from each other," said Marion. "The ability to effectively communicate with our counterparts has made it much easier for us to do our job."

She added that she will focus on familiarizing herself with the language to do her part for the mission.

Yama Sakura is an annual, bilateral exercise with Japanese forces and the U. S. military. This year's exercise is a simulation-driven, joint-bilateral, command post exercise and is the 29th iteration of the Japan-based exercise series.

The exercise is designed to enhance U.S. and Japan combat readiness and interoperability while strengthening bilateral relationships and demonstrating U.S. resolve to support the security interests of friends and allies in the region. U.S. and Japanese forces exchange ideas, techniques, and military experiences during Yama Sakura.

Page last updated Wed February 2nd, 2011 at 19:57