USARJ receives token of appreciation for disaster relief operations in Tohoku area
October 24, 2011
CAMP ZAMA, Japan, Oct. 24, 2011 -- Several thousand origami cranes were presented to U.S. Army Japan on behalf of the Japan Women's Association as a gesture of appreciation for the unit's support during relief efforts following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Eight members of the JWA, or Nihon Josei no Kai, visited Camp Zama on Friday to present collections of 1,000 each of the colorful folded-paper cranes -- or senbazuru, a traditional Japanese gift that promises good fortune -- to six representatives from various USARJ organizations.
"We wanted to show our appreciation, as representatives of Japan, to the U.S. Army for their quick reaction to support the disaster relief efforts," said Eiko Araki, security general for the JWA. "We are so happy that the U.S. Army welcomed us with warm hearts. Each origami crane has a handwritten message from a JWA member. We really put our heart into this to tell USARJ thank you."
Prior to being presented, the cranes were purified in a ritual at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo. Friday, the cranes were given to Col. John Kim, deputy chief of staff of G-5 at USARJ. Also receiving them were four Camp Zama Girl Scouts for their "Operation Backpacks" initiative, and Sgt. 1st Class William Hobson of the USARJ Band for the several performances given by the band in areas affected by the disaster.
"We appreciate the thoughtfulness of the JWS for taking the time from their busy schedule to come to Camp Zama to make this presentation," said Kim. "It recognizes USARJ's effort in Operation Tomodachi: the band lifting spirits with their music at shelters; the Scouts with Operation Backpacks; the 78th Aviation with their delivery of relief supplies and [search and rescue] operations; and the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion with their distribution of relief supplies, bath services and cleanup of the Sendai Airport and train stations."
"More importantly, this recognizes the strong partnership that exists between USARJ and Japan," he continued.
Following the presentation, JWS and USARJ members conversed together in order to further strengthen that bond.
"Working side by side with Self-Defense Force and Government of Japan officials in Operation Tomodachi was an honor," said Kim. "The mission was important and the satisfaction of being able to help people in need strengthened the bond between USARJ and the SDF, as well as the Japanese people."
JWA members began making the origami cranes after seeing the widespread efforts of U.S. service members in support of disaster relief efforts in Tohoku. The JWA also recently presented cranes to various Japanese Self-Defense Force facilities.
The Japan Women's Association is an organization for non-military Japanese wives that boasts more than 3,000 members throughout the country, and whose aim it is to support the improvement of familial relationships and build a better society through female empowerment.