Co-op members brief English students at Camp Kodaira
January 31, 2012
CAMP KODAIRA, Japan - A group of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members, along with Soldiers from U.S. Army Japan, visited a language school here Thursday to brief students on the bilateral cooperative program in which they are currently taking part.
The U.S. and Japanese members of the 63rd co-op program spoke to Japanese students learning English at the Kodaira Language School, located within the JGSDF installation, about their experiences and the knowledge they have gained through their collaboration.
The co-op program is a 10-week program during which JGSDF members stay at Camp Zama, where USARJ is headquartered, to learn about the unit's mission and take part in an intensive language class. Each member of the group is sponsored by a different unit on Camp Zama, whose Soldiers demonstrate their regular duties.
Upon arrival to the school, the co-op members were invited to a meeting room where more than 80 students from the Primary Enlisted and Officer English courses listened intently to their briefing. A short video about the co-op program was shown, followed by a question-and-answer session. The students were then divided into groups of commissioned and noncommissioned officers for further briefings from the co-op members that were specifically geared toward them.
"It was great to learn details about the co-op program because I didn't know much about it, and it seems like a very interesting program," said Sgt. 1st Class Tatsuya Fukase from Camp Kita-Eniwa. "I would love to join the program if I have the chance.
"My goal through learning English is to be someone who can translate the language precisely into Japanese to assist my commanders with running their missions smoothly, especially during JGSDF and U.S. Army bilateral exercises," added Fukase. "It is difficult to translate languages simultaneously, but I will continue to study and get better."
Throughout the program, co-op members also visit U.S. military facilities and service members in Japan, including Yokota Air Base, Naval Air Station Atsugi and U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka. These visits provide co-op members the opportunity to not only gain a better understanding of U.S. military operations, they said, but also to build friendships between the two forces.
"It was good timing for me to be in this program because I got to see how USARJ operates and prepares for [the annual bilateral exercise in Japan] Yama Sakura," said 1st Lt. Kazunori Shirato from Camp Okadama. "It has been a very good experience because we learn from a face-to-face perspective about U.S. Army culture and how the Soldiers conduct their duties.
"Through this program I want to gain a better understanding of how the U.S. Army operates, share my experiences with the JGSDF, and build a better relationship between our two forces," added Shirato.
The Kodaira Language School has had a longstanding relationship with USARJ via a number of exchange events and programs throughout the years. One of those is the Cultural Language Exchange Program. In cooperation with the JGSDF, Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians are invited to spend a week at their school as guest English instructors. They assist the JGSDF instructors and help students perfect their pronunciation, explain English and Army idioms, acronyms and demonstrate dialogues.
"The co-op program offers participants the chance to learn something they could never learn in other language schools," said Maj. Takiji Horiguchi, sub-chief of Primary Officer English course at Kodaira. "It is the best opportunity to learn real U.S. military culture. We really want our students to take advantage of this program after they study the primary English program here."