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YCAPS Afloat is a new initiative series through which Yokosuka Council on Asia-Pacific Studies (YCAPS) directly supports U.S. Navy personal in their efforts to expand their regional knowledge and strategic thinking while deployed. Working through commands’ leadership and/or Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs, YCAPS Afloat provides information and other resources or, when there are sufficient interested personnel, establishes a YCAPS chapter on board specific ships.

The first YCAPS Afloat chapter is onboard the USS Blue Ridge, the 7th Fleet Flagship. Its members come from the Blue Ridge crew, the 7th Fleet Staff, and the embarked Marine force. Since Blue Ridge began its 2019 spring patrol, the chapter has been particularly active. It has organized a Japanese-language study club meeting three times a week and a weekly regional studies movie night. Supporting the professional development of Sailors’ during Blue Ridge’s port visits, it has also worked with the MWR program to recommend tours and provide information directly to those interested about the most valuable places to visit for those seeking to enlarge their regional understanding.

On March 15, YCAPS Afloat kicked off its inaugural port visit event in Manila with a discussion round-table featuring four prominent Filipino scholars: Jay Batongbacal, Richard Heydarian, Jose Custodio, and Deo Onda. Noteably, this was also the first YCAPS event to be organized outside of Japan. Eight Sailors attended and the event was developed in partnership with Japan-U.S. Military Program (JUMP). Each of the scholars introduced their areas of expertise before engaging with attendees in a round-table discussion.

Dr. Batongbacal began the discussion with a brief overview of the ongoing encroachment of the PRC into Philippine territorial waters and island formations since the departure of the U.S. military in the early 1990s through to the present day. He touched heavily on the influence that the Duterte presidency has had on growing ties with China, while approaching the relationship with the United States as one that the U.S. should not take for granted. He highlighted, however, that as of late, with sputtering execution of promised infrastructure and development projects from the PRC that the historical relationship with the United States still largely applied despite a perceived shift in Philippine foreign policy.

Mr. Heydarian provided detailed insight into the Duterte administration policy trends and cabinet members and drew many parallels with the Trump administration. The discussion specifically delved into Duterte’s reluctance to aggressively pursue action and pressure the international community to stand with the Philippines regarding the Hague’s ruling on the South China Sea Arbitration case. Instead, Duterte has chosen to placate the PRC with muffled rhetoric on the subject.

Mr. Custodio examined the role of the military in past and current administrations, emphasizing the large role the Philippine Army has had historically with the Navy or Air Force, and the impact this has had on Philippine foreign policy as the Philippines largely looks inward to maintain border integrity from separatists and rebel groups. This has left the Philippines wanting in terms of Naval and Air Force firepower and readiness, something that of late has begun to be addressed due to territorial incursion from the PRC.

Mr. Onda covered and answered questions regarding the condition of state-funded scientific research and institutions in the Philippines today, as well the impact of land reclamation on the destruction of natural fisheries surrounding the Philippines. He provided a unique look into what the PRC demands during so-called “joint research,” where in fact much of the data and research is done and kept by the Chinese exclusively, sometimes with the Philippine government’s blessing if that is seen as politically or economically advantageous to the administration.

SAN DIEGO (NNS) — Navy personnel from the San Diego area joined members of the Japan Society of San Diego and Tijuana to watch the San Diego Padres game at Petco Park as part of a special Japan-U.S. Military Program (JUMP) event, Aug. 10.

This was the first JUMP event to be held outside of the Washington, D.C. area and was sponsored by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation U.S.A. and the National Association of Japan-American Societies to honor the Navy in San Diego’s ties to Japan.

“JUMP is the celebration of the military relationship between the United States and Japan which has been a strong one for the past 70 years,” said Dave Tuites, president of the Japan Society of San Diego and Tijuana. “We are fortunate to have such an electric group of active duty, retired military, family members and others with a tie to the country of Japan here tonight.”

Special guests for the event included: Rear Adm. Mark Rich, commander, Navy Region Southwest; Capt. Brett E. Crozier, executive officer of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76); James Kendall, research fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation U.S.A.; City Councilmember Chris Cate, San Diego’s Sixth District; County Supervisor Ron Roberts, San Diego County’s Fourth District; Kate Leonard, Honorary Counsul General of Japan in San Diego; and Dr. William R. Farrell, an adjunct professor at the Naval War College.

“It’s so great to see this group here, this mixture of young and old, active duty and retired military, all of whom are united as baseball fans,” said Leonard, speaking on behalf of the Consulate-General of Japan in Los Angeles. “For the past 70 years the U.S. and Japan military ties have been essential in maintaining the peace in the Pacific.”

With USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) headed to join the Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) in Yokosuka, Japan, this month, Crozier focused his remarks on how excited the crew is to be going to Japan.

“To tell you we are excited would be an understatement,” Crozier told the group during his remarks. “We have been working very hard to provide the best, most capable aircraft carrier to send to Japan. Our partnership and alliance in that region is strong, we know that.”

Ronald Reagan was one of the first responders during Operation Tomodachi in 2011 after the earthquake and tsunami, establishing a strong tie between the ship and the community of Japan. In addition, the ship recently completed a maintenance period where it had many of its systems upgraded to become one of the most technologically advanced warships before joining the FDNF.

As the “Navy Mayor” of San Diego, Rich spoke about the importance of the relationship between the Navy and the country of Japan and his commitment to support future JUMP events on the West Coast.

“The U.S. Navy values very, very greatly our relationship with the government and the people of Japan,” said Rich. “Our relationship started 70 years ago at the end of World War II and the state of our relationship, anyone in this room can say, and I can say with confidence, has never been better, and has never been stronger.”

Sailors from Commander, Naval Surface Force U.S. Pacific Fleet, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, USS Cowpens (CG 63), USS George Washington (CVN 73), USS Spruance (DDG 111) and other local commands attended the event.

Military retirees and family members also took part in the event which included a welcoming ceremony, buffet dinner and tickets to the game where the San Diego Padres defeated the Cincinnati Reds 2-1.

JUMP 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 to engage with each other. JUMP also provides a powerful foundation for sustaining the solid alliance and relationship that exists between the U.S. and Japan.

Future JUMP events are planned in Pensacola, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles later this year.

For more information on the JUMP program, visit ; ; ;

For more news from Naval Surface Forces, visit

This story was written by Master Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Donnie W. Ryan, Naval Surface Force U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs and was originally posted on

2023 The Japan U.S. Military Program (JUMP)

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