Japanese officer candidates enhance bilateral knowledge during visit with Camp Zama Soldiers
March 2, 2012
CAMP ZAMA, Japan (March 2, 2012) -- More than 60 officer candidates from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force's Eastern Army met with U.S. Army Japan officials at Camp Zama on Feb. 28 for training and educational enhancement.
Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison Sr., commander of U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward), welcomed Maj. Gen. Daisuke Yamauchi, vice-commandant of the Eastern Army, and held an office call with him while the young officer candidates received a USARJ command briefing that morning.
"These officer candidates will be the key players to support the JGSDF in the future, so this is an opportunity for them to see what the U.S. Army is like," said Yamauchi. "I would like them to learn about the U.S. Army's functions and missions, and also to see their facilities. These officers will be on bilateral mission with U.S. Army, so I want them to be familiar with U.S. Army more."
The candidates attended the JGSDF Officer Candidate School in Kurume City from April to December 2011. They are currently undergoing on-the-job training and will be commissioned as officers next month.
The panel discussion was followed by a question-and-answer session in which the JGSDF officer candidates talked one-on-one and exchanged advice with several USARJ officers. The Japanese and U.S. forces exchanged friendship tokens in the form of a traditional "daruma" doll and an Army book, respectively.
In the afternoon, the group toured the USARJ Command Center and various facilities throughout Camp Zama.
"This visit allowed me to get a brief glimpse of the cultural differences between the JGSDF and U.S. Army and learn about the USARJ mission," said JGSDF Sgt. Maj. Kei Sasaki, one of the officer candidates.
Visiting with the officer candidates also gave the USARJ officers a chance to "remind us of when we were young officers and get us excited again," the deputy commander of USARJ said.
"One of the key aspects of this whole thing is [learning how to] work together, so we try to instill that in them while they are young," said Col. Kevin R. Bishop. "Some of these young officers may become a regional Army's commander or chief of staff at some point, so forming the foundation for a good relationship is very important."
Bishop and Yamauchi have been working together as counterparts for more than a decade and exemplify the type of professional relationship lauded by Bishop. The two shared a firm handshake upon greeting each other during the visit.
"I consider Major General Yamauchi to be one of my best friends in the JGSDF; I consider him more of a friend than an associate," said Bishop. "The JGSDF has great officers and make it easier for me to interact with them because we know each other and have confidence in how we trust each other. So these relationships we developed today, especially for some of these officers may come back someday, are very important."