CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Nov. 4, 2021) – More than 70 volunteers from Camp Zama, the Zama City Office and other organizations participated in a bilateral clean-up event Oct. 25 at the Sagami River near the installation.
Haruki Yoda, chief of the Zama City Environmental Resources Affairs Office, said the city’s initiative to join in cleaning up the Sagami River originally began a few years back when his office found out that a group of students from Camp Zama had organized their own clean-up project at the river in conjunction with Earth Day, which is observed every April.
“Camp Zama students inspired us,” Yoda said. “We wanted to be part of the project too.”
Highlighting the significance of the bilateral aspect of the clean-up, Yoda echoed the remarks of Zama City Mayor Mito Sato, who told the group of volunteers, “A river is a flowing water body that ends up in a sea or an ocean. And Japan and the U.S. share the same sea and ocean.” This connection, Yoda said, means that both nations have a vested interest in taking care of the environment, and bilateral volunteer opportunities such as the river clean-up allow them to take action together.
“The time, effort and smiles we share during the clean-up, it reminds us that we live together in this community,” Yoda said. “We would like to continue this bilateral clean-up event.”
Spc. David Easterwood, assigned to the 500th Military Intelligence Brigade, was a first-time volunteer for the clean-up and said he enjoyed the opportunity to contribute a small portion of his time in order to help beautify his neighboring environment.
“I hope that this event helped show that the U.S. Army in Japan is a part of the community here,” Easterwood said.
Easterwood said he would like for his unit to be invited to more events like this as a way to help the Japanese community get to know U.S. Soldiers outside the context of them wearing a uniform and by seeing them be productive members of the community who also care about the environment.
Sgt. 1st Class Willie Williams, assigned to U.S. Army Japan, and representing USARJ’s Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, said he wanted to participate in the clean-up because he wanted to be part of something beneficial to the community and to make an impact on the cleanliness of the local area.
Williams said he was amazed to see all the people who came together to help clean up and was inspired by the teamwork and effort put in by the organizers of the event.
Williams said it was a great opportunity for him to see the excitement and passion the Soldiers and Zama City residents have for community service, adding that he would definitely like to have more opportunities to participate in similar projects in the future.
“Bilateral events like this are an integral part to building teamwork and partnership,” Williams said.