JGSDF sergeants learn Corps basics
Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan -- Perfect practice makes perfect. Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members and Marines employed this simple concept when learning each other’s language as part of an ongoing cultural and language exchange program June 18-19 at the Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji.
The Ground Self-Defense Force and Marine exchange program affords the opportunity for JGSDF students enrolled in the 56th Primary Enlisted English course at the Kodaira School in Tokyo to visit CATC Camp Fuji and then host Marines at their school.
“The purpose of the exchange program is to give the students a chance to practice and refine their English-speaking skills with members of the U.S. military,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Patrick J. Brennan, the company gunnery sergeant for Headquarters Company, CATC Camp Fuji.
The Marines also benefit from the exchange program, as they learn the basics of the Japanese language and are exposed to the unique traditions of their host nation, according to Brennan.
“The students swap experiences and stories with the Marines to practice their English,” said Brennan. “They teach each other about their military jobs, responsibilities and unit histories in order to promote mutual understanding and respect.”
While visiting CATC Camp Fuji, JGSDF members learned about the Marine Corps’ military occupational specialties, received a presentation of the Marine Corps martial arts program, and executed drill movements. They also received classes and demonstrations by Marines with the armory, explosive ordnance disposal and motor transportation sections.
“I feel this experience was incredibly motivating and beneficial for all of us,” said JGSDF 1st Lt. Shuji Iwasaki, a Kodaira School instructor.
To increase interoperability between the JGSDF and the Marine Corps, both sides must be willing and able to overcome the language and cultural hurdles, which is what the GMEP is designed to do, according to Iwasaki.
“This program is important because English is one of the hardest languages to learn,” said U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Tekiera S. Edwards, a warehouse clerk with Headquarters Company, CATC Camp Fuji.
“The JGSDF members who learn the English language help strengthen the bond between our two services and enhance the relationship between the U.S. and Japan,” said Edwards.
The Marines hope the JGSDF members obtained the education they sought along with an understanding of how Marines operate, according to Brennan.
“I would like to commend the JGSDF for taking the time to visit and learn more of the English language,” said Brennan. “Putting forth such a great effort to ensure effective communication between our two countries is (admirable).”