CAMP ZAMA, Japan -- Members assigned to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force's 4th Engineer Group stand in formation Nov. 5 inside Camp Zama's Yano Fitness Center during a ceremony that celebrated the 39th and 40th anniversaries of the establishment of the unit and its headquarters, respectively.

CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Nov. 10, 2011) -- The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force's 4th Engineer Group and its headquarters celebrated nearly 80 collective years in existence during a ceremony held Saturday inside the Yano Fitness Center here.

The observance marked both the 39th anniversary of the unit's formation in 1972 and the 40th anniversary of the relocation of its headquarters, known as the Zama Sub-post, which was established on Camp Zama one year earlier.

The event was attended by several members of the JGSDF, distinguished guests such as Zama City Mayor Mikio Endo, U.S. Army Japan officials, Japanese Diet members, assembly members from Sagamihara and Zama cities, and JGSDF retirees.

JGSDF Col. Takeshi Ishimaru, commander of the 4th Engineer Group, gave the opening remarks and noted that the longstanding partnership between the U.S. and Japan was especially exemplified this year in the countries' combined efforts following the earthquake and tsunami that struck here on March 11.

"In Miyagi Prefecture, we cooperated with U.S. Army Japan while conducting [the relief effort known as] Operation Tomodachi," said Ishimaru. "We worked closely by exchanging information [with U.S. forces] so that we could accomplish our mission to remove rubble and find missing people."

Ishimaru noted that at the peak of disaster-relief efforts during Operation Tomodachi, the JGSDF deployed more than 100,000 personnel. At one point, 85 percent of the 4th Engineer Group's entire forces were deployed.

"We have improved disaster-relief operations by cooperating and coordinating with 16 municipalities that we are responsible to support," said Ishimaru. "Thanks to the outstanding
support and cooperation of many people concerned, including our neighbors, Zama Sub-post is able to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year."

This year's dual anniversaries are especially significant to the JGSDF unit, Ishimaru said, due to the fact that its Central Readiness Force headquarters will be transferred to and become part of Camp Zama at the end of fiscal 2012.

"Therefore, this ... will be the last decade of anniversaries for [the] Zama Sub-post," said Ishimaru. "We promise to continue the tradition that our predecessors built and make every effort to develop a strong relationship with the local community. I would like to request your continuous support and cooperation."

During his remarks, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Commander Col. Eric D. Tilley said that after nearly four decades, the relationship between U.S. Army Japan and the 4th Engineer Group is "as strong as it has ever been."

"I admire the professionalism and dedication of your entire organization," Tilley said of the JGSDF unit. "Since the day I took command here at Camp Zama, I have enjoyed the pleasure of working with you to build and strengthen our bilateral relationship."

That relationship, Tilley said, is a key part of the defense of Japan and the stability of the entire Pacific region. The commander lauded the two forces' partnership as "a role model for the U.S.-Japan alliance."

"There will be many challenges and endeavors in the future, but I know that you will always live up to the proud traditions of your unit," Tilley said. "You are a valuable member of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, the local Japanese community, and our community here at Camp Zama.

"You have honored us here today with your invitation to participate in the ceremony," he concluded. "As you celebrate your anniversary, the U.S. Army and Camp Zama communities salute and congratulate you on your outstanding achievements."

The observance included demonstrations from both a high school rifle drill team and JGSDF combatives students.

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Page last updated Thu November 10th, 2011 at 13:29