Interpreters bridging the communication gap
1st Sgt. Dean Welch, Etsumi Hirabayashi, 1st Lt. Yuzi Nakamura, and Sgt. 1st Class Ernest White (left to right) discuss plans for future interviews, while Hirabayashi translates the conversation to Japanese host Nakamura in the public affairs cell Jan. 26 at Yama Sakura 59, Camp Kengun, Japan.

CAMP KENGUN, Japan - One of the most frustrating things about traveling abroad is not being able to communicate effectively with others, which can become overwhelming at times.

During Yama Sakura, U.S. Army Pacific's premier bilateral exercise with Japan Ground Self Defense Forces, interpreters played a vital role in fostering communications and building strong alliances between U.S and Japan. Yama Sakura 59 was a a simulated bilateral command post exercise held Jan. 22 through Feb. 2 at Camp Kengun, Japan.

Etsumi Hirabayashi said that some Japanese people do not understand the reason for the U.S. military presence in this exercise, so she is trying to use the media as a means to explain the importance of the exercise and the strong alliance that can be built as a result.

"Communication is very important when dealing with media, and with my experience as a protocol specialist and working in the host nation office, I am able to bridge that gap between the two languages," said Hirabayashi, interpreter and administrative assistant for the U.S. Army Japan Public Affairs Office at Camp Zama, Japan.

This year the U.S. Army public affairs specialists and their Japanese counterparts are assigned an information exchange specialist to facilitate clear communication that will allow for a smooth working relationship.

Media coverage is how information is disseminated. Interaction between military members and their Japanese counterpart teaches cultural sensitivity and new skills to improve job performance.

As an information exchange specialist, Hirabayashi said she saw similarities in the way the U.S. Army PAOs and the Japanese conduct their daily job responsibilities; however, she stated the difference in work preparation was different as the U.S. PAOs are more flexible in their task.

"This exercise is an opportunity for all of us to grow as individuals, Soldiers and to represent America while interacting with our Japanese hosts," said Lt. Col. Stacy S. Townsend, of the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. "This exercise will provide a unique opportunity for us all and keep us informed and able to make an educated decision as a guest here."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16