Japanese-American Society Iwakuni 60th Anniversary Dedication Ceremony

Japanese-American Society Iwakuni 60th Anniversary Dedication Ceremony

by Cpl. Stephen Campbell
MCAS Iwakuni

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Members from the Yamaguchi and Iwakuni Japanese-American Societies participated in a 60th anniversary dedication ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, Japan, Nov. 19, 2018.

To commemorate the 60th anniversary, the Yamaguchi Japan-America Society (YJAS) donated a monument as a symbol of peace and friendship between the U.S. and Japan.

Distinguished guests that attended the ceremony were U.S. Marine Corps Col. Richard F. Fuerst, commanding officer of MCAS Iwakuni, Masayuki Matsumoto, a former Japanese Imperial Navy Pilot, Yoshimasa Hiyashi, president of the Yamaguchi Japan-America Society and a member of the House of Consulates in Japan and Joy M. Sakurai, the principal officer for the U.S. Consulate Fukuoka.

In 1957 the Japanese American Cultural Friendship Association, or JACFA, was established on MCAS Iwakuni. In 1985 the Japanese-American Society (JAS) Iwakuni was established in place of JACFA to continue promoting friendship through social, recreational and cultural activities as well as offering education and language programs to service members and the Japanese community.

Bobby Shibazaki, the president of JAS Iwakuni said, that to this day, JAS Iwakuni is the only known U.S.-Japan non-profit private organization located on a U.S. forces installation in Japan.

“Since my arrival in 2016 I’ve known that JAS has played an important role building the relationship between American and Japanese citizens both on and off base in Iwakuni for many years,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Richard F. Fuerst, commanding officer of MCAS Iwakuni. “As the air station changed the need for a non-profit organization operated by volunteers, has increased.”

Fuerst said that in response to this need, the JAS, YJAS and Iwakuni City began to coordinate joint events and activities in order to strengthen cultural exchanges between the two communities.

“This coordination is perfectly aligned with the air station’s two main objectives, said Fuerst. “The first being the desire to build and maintain the readiness of the Marine Air Group 12, Carrier Air Group 5 and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Fleet Air Wing 31.The second is to be the best neighbors we can here in Iwakuni. The JAS and the city of Iwakuni help us do both of these.”

The ceremony concluded with the JAS Iwakuni announcing a new and bigger location for the organization at Yujo Hall on the Air Station and gave a tour of the building to the distinguished guests.

“As the commanding officer of MCAS Iwakuni, I’m thankful for everything that the JAS Iwakuni and Iwakuni City have done to support these objectives, said Fuerst. “Thank you Mr. Hiyashi, Mr. Matsumuro, JAS and YJAS for the commemorative monument that marks this important occasion, and thank you to the city of Iwakuni for all that you’ve done for the relationship between the two communities in support of our great alliance.”

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