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The Japan U.S. Military Program is seeking a new Program Assistant. We’re looking for someone with an interest and familiarity with Japan and U.S.-Japan relations who would like to help us with our mission of connecting those who have served in Japan. This part-time role will provide logistical and administrative support to the JUMP Director, assist with planning and executing events, and requires excellent written and oral communications skills.

The ideal candidate will be someone with experience in event planning, project and budget management, and administrative support. He or she may travel three or four times a year to help with JUMP events in locations throughout the United States. This role also assists the Communications team with content for social media and the JUMP website. Candidates who have lived in Japan or who have had experience as a military member or family member are encouraged to apply.

This opportunity will begin as a six-month, part-time, independent contractor position without benefits. At the conclusion of the contract term, which will end on September 30, 2019, there will be an opportunity to be considered for full- or part-time employment with benefits, contingent on funding. The Program Assistant is part of the broader Sasakawa USA team and will work in our Washington, D.C. office.

Please read the full job description for details on how to apply. Applications are due by January 15.

The Japan U.S. Military Program connects past and present service members, families, and government civilians who have served in Japan. Through social networks and events, JUMP builds relationships and provides opportunities for service members and their families to engage with each other. JUMP provides a powerful foundation for sustaining the solid alliance and relationship that that exists between the U.S. and Japan.

On September 4, retired Naval Officer Christopher Rodeman began his new role as JUMP’s Director. Rodeman served in the Navy for 30 years, including eight years in Japan, finishing his career at the Pentagon as Director of the Secretary of the Navy Advisory Panel.

“We’re pleased to welcome Chris to the JUMP team,” said Amb. James Zumwalt, CEO of Sasakawa USA. “Chris’ genuine enthusiasm for Japan and its culture paired with his leadership experience in the military makes him an ideal fit for this role.”

In tandem with his role at JUMP, Rodeman was also named a Research Fellow at Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA. In that position, he will help plan the organization’s Tabletop Exercises and the Sasakawa USA Annual Security Forum.

During his Navy career, Rodeman served in a wide range of assignments at sea and ashore, with an emphasis on aviation and the Asia-Pacific region. Before coming to Washington, DC, he was the Commanding Officer of U. S. Naval Air Facility Misawa. In that role, he was the Navy’s senior representative in the northern third of Japan and coordinated recovery efforts following the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami.

A naval aviator, he deployed aboard the aircraft carriers Theodore Roosevelt, Saratoga, Abraham Lincoln, and Kitty Hawk, and took part in numerous operations and exercises including Desert Storm, Provide Comfort, Southern Watch, RIMPAC, Talisman Sabre, Cobra Gold, AnnualEX, Valiant Shield, and Malabar. Ultimately, he commanded a helicopter squadron aboard the Navy’s only forward-deployed carrier in Yokosuka, Japan.

Ashore, Rodeman was Special Assistant to the Commander, Allied Forces Southern Europe (NATO) in Naples, Italy, and Director of the Commander’s Initiatives Group at U. S. Pacific Fleet Headquarters in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

A graduate of Purdue University, he holds a master’s degree in Far East and Pacific Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Additionally, he is a graduate of the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and later taught strategy and policy as an Assistant Professor at the National War College in Washington, DC.

His military awards include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and strike and flight Air Medals. He is a three-time recipient of the Sikorsky “S” award for life-saving rescue missions and was the 2007 Daedalians Navy Aviator of the Year.

As part of JUMP’s ongoing initiative to reach out to those who have served in Japan, JUMP intern Kevin Yuan interviewed Gary Williams, who served in Okinawa from 1968-1971 as a Junior NCO with the US Army. Following his 26 years serving in the Army, he spent another 24 years working as a civilian employee of the US Army Corps of Engineers. He is a self-taught taiko drummer and currently performs with two Okinawa performing arts groups in Washington, D.C. and Virginia Beach.

How did you learn about JUMP?

I learned about JUMP on Facebook and decided to join after reading an article.

What were your perceptions about Japan, before and after serving in Okinawa?

I really didn’t have many perceptions about Japan before I was stationed in Okinawa; only what I saw in old movies and on news stations. I did see movies with my mother and aunt – The Teahouse of The August Moon and Sayonara – and remembered them quite vividly. I would say I was probably enchanted by the movies, but I was only 11 years old at the time. Before Okinawa, I was stationed in Thailand from 1967 through 1968, and I think that experience alone opened my outlook on Asia. I met some really nice people in rural villages and they showed warmth and respect. The hospitality for us was overwhelming. In less than six months after returning from Thailand to the United States, I had orders for Okinawa, so I was ready for my second assignment abroad with only two years in the Army. Okinawa was something like Thailand in customs, but I would say more traditional in customs and values. I began working with seven Okinawa men on almost day one. I met my wife six months later and we lived in an Okinawa community off-base, so I was immersed in the community, their customs, and values.

Do you have any advice to share with individuals getting ready to be stationed in Okinawa for the first time?

My advice to newly assigned people to Okinawa is to enjoy the culture, its people, and its customs. Don’t panic. This is going to be your best assignment ever – yes, even better than Hawaii! Why? Because, the Okinawa people will welcome you and want you to partake in their culture. They are some of the most honest people in the world and the Golden Rule applies 24 hours. Be courteous to Japanese people all the time. You can do a short bow when entering a restaurant or a person’s business or house. Respect their flag when they display it on their Flag Day. And make sure you take off your shoes when entering a person’s house or some restaurants. These little things mean a lot. Try to meet Okinawa people and remember their names, and give them the greeting of the day, whether it be at the USO or any place you frequently visit. You will be surprised by their overwhelming smile.

Similarly, do you have any advice to share with service members who have served in Okinawa in the past and are looking to stay connected with Japan?

I would suggest keeping a diary of your Japanese friends by name and their address. I tried to meet with my co-workers when I go back and I used to do that for a number of years, but I have lost contact since most have retired. I would also try to learn karate, learn jujitsu, or play the sanshin. All these groups have senseis that are linked throughout the world, and you can touch base with them on Facebook, which I do. Also, I would join an Okinawa non-profit group in the USA. You can share memories with members of these groups and share your talents as well. The same applies to martial arts clubs – they are everywhere. So join these clubs and dojos and enjoy the friendship.

What is your favorite place in Okinawa?

I would say Moon Beach, because that’s where I met my wife, Chieko. That’s also my favorite memory about Moon Beach – it’s where our life began.

How did you meet your wife?

I met her at an Easter Sunday picnic hosted by our First Sergeant. Most of the junior leadership were invited with their wives and girlfriends. I came alone and so did my future wife, and about two weeks later we went on our first date.

How did you get to become a Goodwill Ambassador for Okinawa?

After joining the Okinawa Kai organization in 1996, Okinawa Kai senior members suggested my name sometime around 1999. At the time, only one other person was selected and he was Japanese, so I thought I was lucky. But I had also been playing Okinawa music for about two years as well, and I guess my interest in the music and culture was the determining factor.

What is your favorite part about performing?

My favorite part about performing is looking directly into the crowd to see if they are smiling or attentive, and for the most part they are – especially those that have served in Japan or Okinawa. For some, it might be something they missed during their tour because of military needs, or their wives were busy raising a family. I look at the younger children and I hope I get someone interested in the art. I want to show them how much fun this culture is and to be proud of their roots, or for those who are not from Okinawa, to learn about this beautiful culture. Even some Japanese are not exposed, so they are enjoying it as well. Mission accomplished!

How do you view the future of the U.S.-Japan relationship?

It’s the greatest it’s ever been and seems to get better every year. Japan is one of our greatest allies. We constantly train with the Japanese military and we must continue to do so. We are their partner in Asia. The more we train together, the better we become at communicating with one another and supporting one another in future missions. We both must share our understanding of one another and know how to respond as a joint operating force.

Socially, we as Americans need to become more aware of Japanese culture. We are more similar than you would think – it’s just the language barrier, and you can overcome some of that by knowing the Japanese better than we do now. Actually, they know more about us than we do about them. They look up to America as a big brother, so we must learn more about them and treat them with respect. The best way to earn respect is to learn something about their culture, and to share that knowledge with them. Whatever I can do to spread Japanese culture, I am ready to do it every week if possible.

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Do you have an interesting story to tell about your time serving in Japan? Let us know and you could be the next member featured on JUMP Spotlight Series! Read previous editions of the JUMP Spotlight Series here.

A new video, “Friends of Japan: Long Lasting Friendship with U.S. Forces,” features the Japan-U.S. Military Program (JUMP) and highlights the bonds created between U.S. Forces Japan service members and Japanese communities. More than 50,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed in Japan; with their families included, that total rises to 100,000.

As the video highlights, service members often say the friendships they formed with Japanese residents are the highlight of their tour. “The best thing about Japan is the people, the respect they give, and their culture,” says YN2 Kevin Sharadin.

JUMP provides opportunities for military personnel and their families who have served in Japan to continue their affiliation. “We hope those people who have now returned to the United States remain connected to Japan,” says Ambassador James Zumwalt, CEO of Sasakawa USA.

The film was produced by the government of Japan. Check out the full video below.

 

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

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