On Saturday, April 13, JUMP hosted a booth at the Sakura Matsuri on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. The Sakura Matsuri is the largest Japanese cultural festival in the United States and features many Japanese-interest groups, food vendors, and performances. The Cherry Blossom Festival itself is a celebration of the 3,000 cherry blossom trees the mayor of Tokyo gifted to Washington, D.C. in 1912.
The booth gave JUMP staff a great opportunity to talk to potential or current JUMP members face-to-face and hear about their experiences in Japan. Many stopped by with their families to discuss their memories from when they were stationed in Japan and to learn about ways to become more involved. Visitors were encouraged to follow JUMP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Events like the Cherry Blossom Festival are a great opportunity for introducing those who served or lived in Japan to programs like JUMP, which brings elements of Japanese culture to the U.S. for those who were once immersed in the culture.
JUMP connects past and present service members, families, and government civilians who have served in Japan. If you did not have the chance to see us at this festival, join the JUMP network by signing up for the JUMP Newsletter.
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.
Seeking to expose JUMP members to new and different aspects of Japanese culture, on September 30 the Japan US Military Program (JUMP) held its first sake and whisky tasting event at The Army and Navy Club on Farragut Square in Washington, D.C.
About 50 members attended the social, where they learned all about different types of sake and Japanese whisky in a sophisticated setting. Each attendee was presented with a complimentary sake masu, a traditional wooden box cup used to drink sake, emblazoned with the JUMP logo. The masu were used to sample the varying types of sake, ranging in quality from junmai to junmai ginjo to honjozo, all of which were described in great detail by Edward Rapp of Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, of Washington, D.C.
In addition to the sake tasting, there was also a sample of Nikka whiskey from Japan for attendees to try, as well as Sapporo beer and hors d’oeurves that included sliders, gyoza dumplings, and sushi. Those in attendance also had the opportunity to socialize with others who have connections to Japan and share in a memorable night of friendship and fun. Overall, the JUMP social was another showcasing of how JUMP is connecting its members with new and different aspects of Japanese culture that they might not have known before.
Event summary by Nicholas Dowse
More than 120 potential “goodwill ambassadors” for Japanese relations in the United States attended a standing-room only JUMP panel and reception November 17 sponsored by Sasakawa USA and the Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C.
JUMP (The Japan-U.S. Military Program) seeks to connect and bring together service members, families and government civilians who have served in Japan. This event, held at the National War College in Washington, D.C., went a step further by also drawing in those who have yet to serve in Japan.
Attendees included students and faculty of the National War College, NWC alumni and members of the Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C. At the event, up-and-coming U.S. Military officers mingled with senior officers and diplomats until long after the panel discussion had concluded.
In introductory remarks, Masato Otaka, Minister of Public Affairs with the Embassy of Japan in D.C., said all those in attendance could be future “goodwill ambassadors” for the country.
“We want to reach out to people who are back in the states… who might be interested in connecting with Japan,” he said of the JUMP program, adding it has grown considerably in the past two years under the leadership of Sasakawa USA.
Admiral Dennis Blair, Sasakawa USA’s Chairman and CEO, said Japan is a strong economic partner to the U.S. in Asia, a region that is growing in its influence.
He advised all in attendance to take notice of Japan’s recent changes to its Collective Self-Defense policy, telling students preparing to embark on trips to Asia that issue is “something that needs to be in your mind.”
The program continued with a panel discussion on “Potential Flashpoints for the Northeast Asia Region: Japan, China and U.S. Perspectives.” Panelists Lieutenant General Wallace “Chip” Gregson Jr.; Dr. Kent Calder with Johns Hopkins University; and Dr. Cynthia Watson, Professor of Strategy at The National War College joined Moderator Ambassador Rust Deming, Adjunct Professor of Japan Studies at SAIS for a discussion.
Topics included China’s demographics problem related to its recently amended one-child policy, the U.S.-Japan alliance’s importance to security in East Asia, freedom of the seas in East Asian waters, Japan’s recent constitutional change that allows for collective self-defense and the status of Japan’s Coast Guard capabilities.
James Kendall, Sasakawa USA’s Fellow for Common Challenges who spearheads JUMP, said he is looking forward to employing the program as a conduit for strengthening relations between the United States and Japan, as well as bringing together those who have a shared experience that they wish to continue.
“This is such a great way for people to further develop their relationship with Japan even after they have returned stateside,” he said. “This event at the National War College definitely achieved that by educating those who attended on current issues that are relevant to that relationship, while also providing a venue to network and simply socialize with others who also have that shared interest.”
“I’m excited for more great JUMP events to come.”
• Minister Masato Otaka, Public Affairs Section, Embassy of Japan
• Admiral Dennis Blair, Chairman, Sasakawa USA
• Dr. Kent Calder, Director, Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies, Johns Hopkins University
• Dr. Cynthia Watson, Professor, National War College
• Lieutenant General Wallace “Chip” Gregson, Retired, United States Marine Corps
• Moderator: Ambassador Rust Deming, Adjunct Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
• Gene Russell, Executive Director, National War College Alumni Association
• Ambassador John R. Malott, President of Japan-America Society of Washington DC
2023 The Japan U.S. Military Program (JUMP)
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