CAMP ZAMA, Japan – Members from a collective of young leaders’ groups from the surrounding communities were here Aug. 22 for a mission brief and installation tour as part of a U.S. Army Garrison Japan-hosted outreach event.
More than 30 members from eight chapters of the Junior Chamber International, or JCI, saw various historical sites and installation facilities and also met with and had lunch with the USAG Japan commander during their visit.
The purpose of the visit was to not only strengthen the existing relationships Camp Zama has with the JCI chapters it has engaged with in the past, but also to establish relationships with the other chapters while communicating the role and importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance, said event coordinator Kazumi Kawamoto, assigned to the USAG Japan Public Affairs Office.
The eight JCI chapters are located in areas that include Zama, Sagamihara, Yokohama and Minato, Tokyo, all of which also have U.S. Army installations located nearby. The visit marked the first time representatives from all eight chapters were at Camp Zama together.
Kawamoto said after the tour she received many positive comments from JCI members, who said they are eager to learn more about USAG Japan installations elsewhere in the Kanto Plain, and that they want to continue building the relationship among the different chapters by inviting each other to their own area’s events.
Hayato Inoue, president of the JCI Zama chapter, said that of all the facilities on Camp Zama the group toured, he was impressed most with the Youth Center. He said it was great that the installation has a place for children to freely develop their unlimited potential and creativity from an educational perspective.
The visit was also beneficial for Inoue, he said, because his JCI chapter is currently planning an event in November in which youth from Camp Zama and Zama City will interact as part of the city’s “sound upbringing” project for adolescents.
“We are trying to proactively tackle some areas that city governments do not traditionally have a role in, and we are deepening the extent of our exchanges that way,” Inoue said. “I believe we can play a role in civil diplomacy as a nongovernmental organization, in addition to nation-to-nation or city-to-city [relationships].”
Inoue said he hopes his organization’s relationship with Camp Zama will continue into the future, especially in regard to youth exchange events.
Mahoko Yamada, a public relations representative for JCI Yokohama, said it was refreshing to see a U.S. military facility like Camp Zama that is located in the middle of its neighboring city.
Like Inoue, Yamada said it was inspiring to tour and learn about the Youth Center because one of things her chapter is focusing on at their local government level is to support workers and their children in the community.
Yamada said she hopes to continue having exchanges like this and to apply some of the same services and programs Camp Zama offers in her own community.
“From a community and people-development perspective, this was a beneficial tour for myself and the JCI members,” Yamada said. “We will take what we learned here today, and this will definitely serve as a bridge between our two communities.”
The JCI chapters are made up of young leaders, typically ages 20 to 40. In addition to this being the first time all eight chapters had visited Camp Zama at the same time, it was also the first-ever visit to the installation for five of them.