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Members of JUMP and the Yokuska Council on Asia-Pacific Studies (YCAPS) toured the Toga Shrine in Tokyo for a recent event co-sponsored by JUMP. The November 4 tour was arranged by Captain Keizo Kitagawa of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and included a visit to the nearby Suikokai Club.

YCAPS aims to promote the study of strategic, diplomatic, and legal issues affecting the Asia-Pacific Region. In January 2017, JUMP announced its formal partnership with YCAPS. The partnership helps JUMP to extend its outreach to service members in Japan.

Togo Shrine, located in Meiji Jinju, is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Admiral Heihachiro Togo. The tour attendees received an introduction to the life of Admiral Togo, who is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest admirals. Admiral Togo is famous for destroying the Russian Baltic Fleet in 1905 during the Russo-Japanese War, eventually leading to Japan’s victory. The tour also included time to enjoy the shrine’s beautiful gardens.

During a bento lunch at the Suikokai Club, Haruo Adachi, executive director of Togokai, briefed the group on Admiral Togo and the history of Togo Shrine. After lunch, Rear Admiral Anzai (JMSDF, retired), managing director of Suikokai, gave a brief on the history and activities of the organization. Suikokai is an organization dedicated to conducting research, supporting the JMSDF and honoring those who have served Japan at sea.

To read more about this outing, visit the YCAPS website.

 

JUMP is pleased to officially announce a formal partnership with the Yokosuka Council on Asia-Pacific Studies (YCAPS). YCAPS aims to promote the study of strategic, diplomatic, and legal issues affecting the Asia-Pacific Region, and this partnership allows JUMP to extend its outreach to service members in Japan. Capitalizing on Yokosuka City’s unique pool of global expertise and rich maritime heritage, YCAPS seeks to build networks between individuals, promote dialogue, provide world-class educational opportunities and enable professional mentorship.

To date, YCAPS has already hosted many successful events, ranging from social lunches and film screenings to more formal discussions on the importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance and role of Europe in Asia. Click here to view all upcoming events from both JUMP and YCAPS.

JUMP is proud to be a sponsor of YCAPS and is excited about the wonderful success the organization has been able to achieve in a short amount of time. To find out more about YCAPS and how to get involved visit their website or their Facebook page. JUMP also recently featured YCAPS President John Bradford, in the Spotlight Series Q&A, which can be read here.

As part of JUMP’s ongoing initiative to reach out to those who have served in Japan, JUMP Program Officer Brian Graf interviewed Commander John Bradford, U.S. Navy, who has been living in Japan on and off since 1998, for a total of about 10 years. Until recently, he served as Regional Cooperation Coordinator for the 7th Fleet at Yokosuka Naval Base. Now, he’s a full-time language student in Tokyo. Bradford additionally is President of the Yokosuka Council on Asia-Pacific Studies (YCAPS), which recently held a JUMP event (view details here).

How did you hear about JUMP? How long have you been a member?

In a way I have been involved with JUMP from the start. I recall a conversation that I had with Ambassador [Ichiro] Fujisaki concerning his vision to start an alumni organization for U.S. military service personnel who had served in Japan. That was around 2009 or early 2010. I was very glad when that group was launched by an assembly of senior officers during a ceremony at the Army-Navy Club. At the time, I observed that it would be best if that top-down organization created opportunity for a more grassroots-style organization that met the needs of more junior veterans. It has been great to see the JUMP leaders step in and cultivate those grassroots foundations. Service in Japan has been a positive experience for hundreds of thousands of service members, and many want to keep building upon, or at least keep a link with, the opportunities and perspectives associated with that experience.

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Could you tell us a little about the Yokosuka Council on Asia-Pacific Studies (YCAPS)?

YCAPS exists to help members of the Yokosuka community learn more about the strategic, diplomatic, and legal issues affecting the Asia-Pacific region. We take advantage of Yokosuka City’s unique pool of global expertise and rich maritime heritage to build networks between individuals, promote dialogue, provide world-class educational opportunities, and enable professional mentorship. So far, we’ve hosted seminars led by experts coming from around the world, taken interesting tours of places of strategic interest in and around Yokosuka, and gathered for social networking events. Here are a couple of events that are a great sample of our activities:  On November 16, we organized the first YCAPS-JUMP Seminar by hosting a panel of experts who discussed Europe’s role in Asia’s maritime security.  On December 3, we’ll have a guided tour of Admiral Togo’s flagship from the Battle of Tsushima, and then go for an end-of-year social lunch of authentic Yokosuka Navy curry. We want to be a place where people have fun helping each other learn and grow.

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How can interested people get involved with YCAPS?

Just check out the upcoming events on the YCAPS webpage, RSVP, and turn up to join the fun.

Why would you say the U.S.-Japan alliance is so important?

The alliance is the cornerstone of stability in Asia. This is said so often that the words have become a bit cliché, but it is also absolutely true. This tight partnership between two of the world’s most important nations is what makes the Asia-Pacific the engine of the global economy. The alliance is also key to the United States’ social and financial well-being.

How did you first become involved with Japan?

In 1997 I graduated from Cornell and commissioned into the U.S. Navy. After my initial accession training at the Surface Warfare Officer School in Newport, Rhode Island, I was assigned to USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), which had just joined the Yokosuka waterfront as the second forward-deployed Aegis destroyer.  I joined the ship on deployment in the Middle East, and I vividly recall steaming into Yokosuka harbor in the summer of 1998 and seeing my new hometown emerge.

What was the hardest thing to get used to when you first arrived?

Honestly, I’m not sure. I was going through many transitions at the time, leaving college, starting to live on a ship, learning the job of a Naval officer, etc. My life was so full of changes back then, but I was quite happy working through them. I suppose the hardest thing was probably leaving my close-knit crew of college friends, but that would have also been true if I’d been stationed in Norfolk or San Diego.

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Tell us about an embarrassing culture shock moment (we all have them).

Around 1998 or 1999, I remember returning to Japan from a vacation in Southeast Asia and eagerly phoning one of my Japanese friends from my cellphone (the Japanese ones were so small compared to those I’d seen in the U.S.!) to talk about my trip. I made that call from my seat on the train and a helpful man came over and pointed out that in Japan this is considered very rude. He suggested that I go to the end of the car to finish the conversation. I was pretty embarrassed at the time, but now it drives me up the wall when I listen to everybody else’s phone conversations and the music from their headphones when I take public transit in the U.S.

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Any advice for individuals getting ready to be stationed in Japan?

Just stay flexible, stay optimistic, and stay focused on what you want to achieve professionally and personally while you are here.

Describe one of your favorite memories from Japan.

Wow! How can I choose? Having PCSed (relocated) to Japan three times, my total time in Japan has added up to about 10 professionally rewarding and tremendously fun years. A story I like to tell dates about my tour in Sasebo is when I bought my first sofa. I’d taken a bus out to an area a few miles from my apartment where most of the furniture stores are and walked around between the various shops to see what was available. The last shop I visited was a bit further from the others, so I took a taxi.  When I paid, I only had hundred-yen coins and the driver didn’t have many 10-yen coins, so he was 40 yen short on the change he owed me.  He was super-apologetic and I told him not to worry about it. I went into that final store, found a sofa I liked, paid for it and arranged shipping. It was a big investment for me at the time, so I figured I definitely needed to walk home rather than spend more money on a bus or taxi.  A few minutes into the walk, a taxi pulled up next to me and I turned to shoo it off. I was surprised to see that it was the same driver who had given me the previous ride. He’d been waiting for me and now insisted that he give me a free ride home to compensate for the “poor” service he’d previously shown!

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Where do you think the U.S.-Japan Alliance is headed?

I think the alliance is definitely going to get tighter. After more than 50 years of cooperation, we know each other well and how to deepen the relationship. East Asia is becoming a tougher neighborhood, so that alliance-strengthening is needed. At the same time, Japan is looking to be more active in global security, and the U.S. is their global partner of choice.

 

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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.

My family and I first went to Japan in 1984, when I commanded a guided missile destroyer newly homeported in Yokosuka. It didn’t take long before the beauty of Japan and the hospitality of the Japanese people captured my admiration and affection. Both of our children returned to Japan later for exchange visits.

Although Japanese people and Americans are different in so many ways, through the years our people have formed unique personal bonds and a sincere appreciation for each other’s countries. That is especially true among service members, government civilians, and their families who have served in Japan.

While I no longer explore the coast of Japan from a ship, I am now happy to be working with JUMP and helping to connect past and present service members and their families with others who have this shared experience. I believe Japan and America have much to offer each other, and JUMP is a powerful tool through which we can continue to build upon the U.S.-Japan alliance.

 

Admiral Dennis C. Blair, USN (ret.) is a renowned expert on Asia Pacific policy and issues, having served as Director of National Intelligence and Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Command. During his 34-year Navy career, Blair served on guided missile destroyers in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets and commanded the Kitty Hawk Battle Group. Ashore, he served as Director of the Joint Staff and held budget and policy positions on the National Security Council and several major Navy staffs. He is the Chairman of the Board at Sasakawa USA, which administers JUMP, and he has participated as a recurring featured guest at JUMP events.

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

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