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Members of our armed services who have served in Japan came together on Friday, February 3 for a celebration of lifelong friendships, shared memories, and the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance.

In cooperation with the Embassy of Japan, JUMP participated in the U.S. Army Japan Reunion at the Fort Myer Officer’s Club in Arlington, Virginia.

The gathering of about 50 service members was treated to an evening of festivities, including addresses from Col. Masashi Yamamoto, and RADM Yuki Sekiguchi of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), respectively. Participants also were greeted by warm remarks from LTG Francis Weircinski, the former Commander of U.S. Army Japan and U.S. Army Pacific, about the wonderful relationships that he formed during his service in Japan. He recalled developing a great respect for the Japanese people through his cooperative effort with the JGSDF following the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

MG Michael Harrison, the former Commander of U.S. Army Japan, spoke about the lifelong friendships that he and his family formed while in Japan and the important role that those relationships have played in the development of his children. Finally, the evening was capped off with a toast by Col. Craig Agena, U.S. Army (ret.), honoring the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance and the bond that the two countries share.

JUMP would like to thank the Japanese Embassy for hosting this event as well as Fort Myer for providing the venue. JUMP continues to look to the future, and we hope to see all of you at the next JUMP event. View the gallery of photos from the event below!

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.

If you’re not already a JUMP member, sign up today to ensure you’re invited to all the great events to come in 2017!

This year JUMP held several events, including reunions for Navy and Marine veterans and their families and a send-off party for graduating Naval Academy cadets headed to Japan… I think it deepened the friendship and the alliance in personal ways.
Ambassador Ken-Ichiro Sasae

The following is a rough transcript of a speech given by the Honorable Ken-Ichiro Sasae, Ambassador of Japan to the U.S., at the 62nd Self Defense Forces Day reception on October 27, 2016. Click here to read more about JUMP’s participation at the event.

 

Ambassador Ken-Ichiro Sasae speaks at the Third Annual Security Forum 2016 put on by Sasakawa USA, which administers the JUMP Program. Photo credit: Joy Asico (www.asicophoto.com)

Ambassador Ken-Ichiro Sasae speaks at the Third Annual Security Forum 2016 put on by Sasakawa USA, which administers the JUMP Program.
Photo credit: Joy Asico (www.asicophoto.com)

Good evening and welcome.

You may have noticed that our flag is flying at half-mast today. It is because Prince Mikasa, the uncle of Emperor Akihito and brother of Emperor Hirohito, has passed away. At 100 years old, he was the oldest member of the Imperial Family. On his 100th birthday, he said, “I’d like to spend my days pleasantly and peacefully while praying for the happiness of people around the world and thanking my wife, Yuriko, who has been supporting me for more than 70 years.” He is survived by his wife, Princess Yuriko, who is 93.

Let us have a moment of silence for Prince Mikasa, who we will miss.

While this is a time of mourning for us, we have made the decision to carry on with this reception out of respect to our friends here, and because we cherish the U.S.-Japan alliance.

Tonight we are celebrating the founding—62 years ago—of Japan’s Self Defense Forces. I was 3 years old when the Self-Defense Forces were established in 1954. It helps me put things in perspective to remember that Japan did not have a military when I was born. Exhausted by war, we were a nation struggling to get on our feet.
Every Japanese family can tell you of the food shortages and hardships and confusion we faced after the war. For security we depended upon the United States and on a police force, at that time.

Last year I went to many events in the U.S. marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the war. I could feel the genuine public reconciliation that had occurred and the friendships that had formed over those years.

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Ambassador Ken-Ichiro Sasae and JUMP team member Christa Desrets discuss the JUMP Program at the 62nd Self Defense Forces Day reception in Washington, D.C. on October 27, 2016.

The security alliance, of course, has been quietly progressing for many years in many ways, including the recent new defense guidelines and new security legislation. After the memories of the war, even the Japanese people were cautious about strengthening our Self Defense Forces. In fact, it wasn’t until 2006 that the Defense Agency was raised to a cabinet-level department and made the Ministry of Defense.

But year-by-year our trust grew; our self-confidence grew; our friendship grew and our alliance also grew.

Last month in Ft. Worth, we saw new evidence of our closeness with the rollout of our Air Self Defense Forces’ new F-35s. This advanced stealth fighter is a good example of our improved defense capabilities in conjunction with the U.S. policy of rebalancing toward Asia. As you know, this comes at a time when the security environment surrounding Japan is increasingly difficult.

But let me tell you something that brought home to me Japan-U.S. closeness in a very meaningful way. In March of this year, we marked the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The Japanese people will long remember the assistance of U.S. Forces—all the ships and aircraft and personnel—who took part in Operation TOMODACHI. As I told a group the other day, this was an armada of friendship.

I think Operation TOMODACHI must be considered meaningful to the U.S. military as well. Indeed, in the halls of the Pentagon, a permanent exhibition commemorating that operation was installed this March. I think TOMODACHI broke through the cultural differences into something more personal between our two armed forces.

Our Embassy is undertaking its own efforts to strengthen the alliance.

For example, we began the Japan U.S. Military Program—or JUMP—for military members and their families who were stationed in Japan since last year. This year JUMP held several events, including reunions for Navy and Marine veterans and their families and a send-off party for graduating Naval Academy cadets headed to Japan. Over 2,400 service members and their families who have served in Japan are connected in person through these events and nearly 30,000 people are connected through JUMP social media.

In July, the Embassy hosted a reception to welcome a Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces Training Squadron during a port visit in Baltimore. I think it deepened the friendship and the alliance in personal ways.

So, in closing, as we meet here to mark the Self Defense Forces’ anniversary, we also celebrate the alliance and friendship between Japan and the United States.

And I would like to thank all of you for coming this evening to help us do that. Thank you very much.

On the occasion of the Japan Self Defense Forces 62nd anniversary, the Japan-US Military Program (JUMP) was excited to join with the Embassy of Japan to celebrate the accomplishments both countries have achieved together over the past year. The reception, hosted for members of the U.S. defense community in industry, academia, and government, was held at the Ambassador’s Residence in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, October 27.

Distinguished guests to the program included Rear Admiral Yuki Sekiguchi, the Defense and Naval Attaché at the Embassy of Japan in Washington D.C.; The Honorable Ken-Ichiro Sasae, Ambassador of Japan to the U.S; and Dr. Janine Davidson, Under Secretary of the Navy.

While speaking at the program, Ambassador Sasae (pictured above) introduced the JUMP Program as a still new but growing initiative that brings together those who have served in Japan. Members of the JUMP team were present to sign up new members and explain the program to hundreds of defense experts who attended the celebration. Click here to read a rough transcript of Amb. Sasae’s remarks.

Click here to learn more about JUMP and here to become a member.

This year marks the 5th anniversary of Operation Tomodachi, a U.S. Armed Forces assistance program enacted to support disaster relief in Japan following the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster. According to the Embassy, the quick and steadfast support of the U.S. Armed Forces following the disaster is something that Japanese people remain thankful for, even to this day. This gesture of friendship and support was memorialized at a permanent exhibition in the Pentagon in March 2016.

The reception also featured a prerecorded personalized video from The Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) Central Band, featuring the national anthems of Japan and the U.S. with photographs and video of the collaborative efforts of the U.S. and Japan forces. Representatives of Japan’s Defense Industries (including Fujitsu, Mitsubishi and Hitachi) also were at the event showcasing models of their latest defense equipment.

 

2022 The Japan U.S. Military Program (JUMP)

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