KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Every day, Team Kadena strives to build and improve relations with their partners in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). Whether it’s through joint training operations in the field or bilateral exchange programs in the classroom, the two militaries work side-by-side to foster a stronger, more cohesive partnership
On Dec. 21, 2017, Self-Defense Force Tech. Sgt. Masaaki Hayakawa, 701st Squadron, Special Airlift Group, helped build partnerships between the JASDF and U.S. Air Force by graduating from Kadena’s noncommissioned officer academy (NCOA).
During NCOA, students attend a six-week course that covers leadership challenges, public speaking, management tactics, marching and building partnerships as a class.
“I’ve had a very fun experience going through the course,” Hayakawa said. “My classmates have been very helpful and are good to me.”
Hayakawa said his biggest challenge during the course was the language barrier, but he was able to overcome that with the help of his instructor and classmates.
“One of the biggest challenges I had to overcome as an instructor is communication,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brandon Wolf, Erwing Professional Military Education instructor. “As a teacher, I want to make sure that all of my students succeed.”
Wolf said his first worry in teaching an international student was about all of the students getting along and accepting each other. The goal is to naturally promote a bilateral partnership, so positive relationships among the students was vital.
“They welcomed him with open arms and they really made my job easy,” Wolf said. “Masaaki did very well in class. The traditional Japanese communication style is a lot different than how we would do a presentation in the Air Force. I think it was a great learning experience for him to see how we operate and he adapted very well.”
According to Wolf, the highlights of each PME class he teaches are watching the students bond, sharing their experiences and growing together over the six-week course.
“I had a meaningful experience of the course,” said Hayakawa. “The instructors we’re great and my classmates were very helpful. I hope to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. Air Force and the JASDF and that we can continue by exchanging more students.”