CAMP SENDAI, Japan -- The opening ceremony for Exercise Yama Sakura, or YS 73, was held at the south training area on Camp Sendai, Japan, Dec. 5.
The ceremony marked the beginning of the 35th anniversary of the annual bilateral training exercise between service members from the U.S. military and the Japan Self Defense Force.
Sixteen hundred U.S. personnel led by U.S. Army I Corps as well as 4,600 JGSDF forces led by the Northeastern Army will participate in this year's exercise.
Lt. Gen. Gary Volesky, I Corps commanding general, expressed commitment to Japan and the exercise.
"The critical objective for this exercise is to continue to strengthen the solid United States/Japan alliance," said Volesky. "As a combined joint task force, we have an opportunity to improve our interoperability through shared understanding. Our commitment to each other is enduring, and I believe this will clearly show through the exercise."
The two-week training event is the premier joint, bilateral command post exercise for the two nations. The purpose of the exercise is to exchange ideas, techniques, military experience and exercise capabilities in the defense of Japan. Done mostly through computer-based simulations, JGSDF and the U.S. forces practice bilateral staff actives to respond to an armed attack on Japan.
It has been five years since Sendai hosted the event and this will be their 10th time hosting.
This exercise will be carried out under a training scenario where a hypothetical opposing force will launch an offensive aggression to invade Japan.
Although this is Volesky's first time at Camp Sendai and as the commander for this exercise he said he considers this bilateral exercise one of the cornerstones of continued security in the region.
"Our participation in Yama Sakura, as well as other exercises including Rising Thunder, Orient Shield and Keen Edge, enables Army and Japan Ground Self Defense Force to build upon our great partnership to enhance combat readiness and interoperability while strengthening our relationships," Volesky said.