CAMP ZAMA, Japan – About 40 Camp Zama residents joined a Sagami River cleanup event Oct. 30 as part of a recently launched initiative that allows U.S. Army Garrison Japan, Sagamihara City, Zama City and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force to combine efforts as community partners.
Sagamihara City officials hosted the event at the city’s Shindo Sports Ground, just a 10-minute drive from Camp Zama.
Camp Zama participants included USAG Japan commander Col. Christopher L. Tomlinson and Command Sgt. Maj. Justin E. Turner; members of the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program; Soldiers from the 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade; students and staff from Zama Middle High School and the school’s Key Club; and staff from Arnn Elementary School.
Sagamihara City Mayor Kentaro Motomura opened the event by welcoming participants and explaining that this joint cleanup, only the second of its type since launched this year, would be held in support of “Sagami River Lovers Association” efforts. The association formed in 1982 and focuses its activities on “protecting the precious nature around Sagami River and passing it on to the next generation,” Motomura said.
He welcomed the USAG Japan leadership team and volunteers, along with Col. Kenji Honda, commander of the 4th Engineer Group and JGSDF Camp Zama; and Zama City’s Mayor Mito Sato and her staff.
Volunteers were provided protective gloves, tongs and garbage bags, and spent about an hour cleaning the area along the river and near the playground.
“I was very happy we had such a great turnout of volunteers from Camp Zama,” Tomlinson said. “We are very fortunate to have such great relationships with our local communities.”
He said the Garrison continues to look for ways to partner with local residents, and sees great value in the long-lasting friendships with the cities and JGSDF.
“I believe that having the opportunity to work together and be part of these great events helps us to continue to strengthen our friendship and mutual understanding,” Tomlinson said.
Honda provided closing remarks for the day’s event and stressed the significance of the teamwork.
“Developing our relationships … through this kind of opportunity helps us to work smoothly in any situation when we need to cooperate together,” he said.