JUMP deepened and broadened its focus and event offerings in its second year, while rerunning a few old hits. In January, we held an event focusing on U.S. bases on Okinawa featuring the chairman and CEO of Sasakawa USA, Admiral Dennis Blair, JUMP program director Lieutenant Colonel James Kendall and Lieutenant General Chip Gregson. The three had written a report on the issue, which has become more and more politically volatile recently.
In February, we held a networking event in Port Tampa Bay to honor veterans who had been stationed in Japan and let them meet Japanese people living in the Tampa Bay area. On a lighter note, we also attended the Japan Festival at the Marine Corps Base Quantico, a family-friendly affair with a ninja skit, Okinawan classical dance, and Japanese toys.
March kicked off with a joint US-Japanese military band concert held at the Embassy of Japan to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the March 11, 2011 tsunami and thank the U.S. for its efforts to help. Lieutenant General Kenneth Glueck and LtCol Kendall delivered remarks. One of the highlights of the year was our first annual dinner at the Army and Navy Club, where General Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, joined Adm Blair to speak about the future of the U.S.-Japan alliance. Save the date for our second annual dinner coming up this spring!
The evening networking continued later in the month with an open bar at Sine’ Irish Pub in Arlington and a reception in Los Angeles for service members who have been stationed in Japan. And once again, we participated in a kid-friendly festival: the April Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival) in Washington, D.C., the largest one-day celebration of Japanese culture in America. Our booth offered kingyo sukui, a traditional Japanese goldfish-catching game.
Japan loves baseball, so we had to bring back the popular baseball game event from 2015. This year, we visited a Padres-Marlins game in San Diego in June, which brought together American sailors with Japanese sailors visiting for a port call. Retired Japanese pro baseball pitcher Takashi Saito even showed up. In July, JUMP headed to the Big Easy for an event at the National World War II Museum. The keynote speaker, Lieutenant General Burt Field, celebrated the progress in U.S.-Japan relations in the past 70 years.
September was a busy month for JUMP — we had a reception at the Marine Corps Base Quantico that reunited Marines with a connection to Japan. Then at an event at Seattle’s Nisei Veterans Committee Memorial Hall, we honored other veterans with a connection to Japan: second-generation Japanese-Americans who fought for the U.S. in World War II. Distinguished guests included the consul general of Japan and generals from both countries. At the end of the month, our members acquainted themselves with a selection of Japanese whiskies and sake at a tasting event at the Army and Navy Club.
Our final two events this year were continuations of successful gatherings from last year. In October, we met at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola to watch a taiko performance and hear from distinguished speakers, including Consul General Ken Okaniwa and Admiral Patrick Walsh. Our November event at the National War College in Washington, D.C. focused on challenges for the U.S. and Japan in Northeast Asia. We heard from Adm. Blair along with Japanese Rear Admiral Yuki Sekiguchi and prominent scholars of Asia associated with Washington think tanks. JUMP also attended a reception for the Japan Self-Defense Forces at the Japanese Embassy on October 27.
We hope to continue building on this strong foundation of events next year, and thank you to our members for their support! If you’d like to see photos of these events, there are plenty more in our galleries.
About two hundred active-duty American and Japanese service members and other Southern California-area JUMPers came together Tuesday in San Diego for a JUMP event celebrating camaraderie, baseball, and the U.S.-Japan alliance.
JUMP’s second annual event at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, held again in cooperation with the Japan Society of San Diego and Tijuana, brought together the large group for a Padres v. Marlins game. The contingent of active service-members included U.S. Navy Sailors and their Japanese counterparts who came from three Japan Maritime Self Defense Force ships in San Diego for a port call.
In addition to watching the game, participants had the opportunity to swap stories, network, and enjoy the company of others who have served within US Forces Japan as well as Japanese forces.
The event kicked off just before the game began with a ceremonial kagami biraki sake barrel opening ceremony and a kanpai toast from the T-Mobile Home Run Deck in right field. The game then opened with an on-field ball cap exchange between Rear Admiral Markham K. Rich, Commander of the Navy Region Southwest, and Rear Admiral Hidetoshi Iwasaki with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, who both were attending as part of the JUMP delegation. JUMP also was pleased to welcome the Hon. Hidehisa Horinouchi, Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles, as well as members of JUMP and JSSDT including Dave Tuites, President of JSSDT; and Lieutenant Colonel James Kendall, USMC (ret.), Director of JUMP and a Fellow at Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA.
Back at the home run deck, the group enjoyed dinner and drinks and a surprise visit from retired Japanese professional baseball pitcher Takashi Saito, who last played for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. The group also was excited to watch famed Japanese MLB player Ichiro Suzuki who, at the time of the game, was only one hit away from tying the record for all-time career hits, set at 4,256 by Pete Rose.
The group waved signs of support calling for “Ichiro” to bat, which he finally did at the top of the ninth inning. Suzuki struck a ground ball, but was out before making it to first base — leaving Rose’s record intact for another day. Although the next day’s afternoon matchup was not part of the official JUMP event, several JMSDF members planned to attend. There, they would have witnessed Suzuki land a single in the first inning and a double into the right-field corner in the ninth, officially surpassing Rose’s professional record.
JUMP would like to extend warm thanks to staff members with both the U.S. Navy and the JMSDF who supported this event and helped make it a success. We about doubled participation in this event over the 2015 event in San Diego, and we look forward to collaborating again in the future!
Planning for the next JUMP event in New Orleans on July 14 is now well underway, and additional events are coming up in Pensacola, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Make sure to visit JUMProgram.org frequently to check our calendar for upcoming events or sign up for the JUMP newsletter to keep informed on all our projects!
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