CAMP ZAMA, Japan -- Nine Japanese college students gained professional development and a familiarity with working in a U.S. military environment after participating in U.S. Army Garrison Japan's summer internship program here last month.
One of the goals of the internship, an annual program on Camp Zama since 2013, is to provide the students the opportunity to learn about USAG-J and the unit's mission, said Mikako Ohno, an information and editorial specialist assigned to USAG Japan Public Affairs and the intern program coordinator.
Capt. James Hargus, who is assigned to U.S. Army Japan and served as a mentor during the program, said his team was made up of two students.
His goal was to ensure many of the students' daily duties were in at least some way related to their areas of study: security and emergency management.
Hargus said he and his Soldiers, each with unique areas of expertise, provided the interns training on topics ranging from anti-terrorism force protection and military police operations, to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive, or CBRNE, consequence management.
"They [were like] sponges ... they suck[ed] up knowledge and ask[ed] good questions," Hargus said of his interns.
Takizawa, who asked to be identified by only his last name, was one of this year's interns.
Takizawa, who studies counter-terrorism and risk management at Nihon University in Tokyo, rotated between working at two offices: the protection unit at U.S. Army Japan and the Emergency Management Office at USAG Japan.
Takizawa said one of his main tasks during the program was to help the EMO prepare for a full-scale exercise, held Aug. 20 through 23 throughout Camp Zama, which involved scenarios that simulated various terrorist threats.
"I did not expect to get a work assignment that would be so hands-on and that would be directly related to my area of study," said Takizawa. "I am very grateful to have gotten this experience, which I would not have been able to if I had not participated in this program."
Luna said he thinks he and his team helped Takizawa gain a deeper perspective on how emergency operations function during real-world emergencies such as those that the full-scale exercise simulated.
"There is a direct correlation to what [Takizawa] is studying in his degree and what he is doing here," said Will Luna, USAG Japan's installation emergency manager and another mentor for the internship program.
"Hopefully, someday [Takizawa] will be running an office like mine," said Luna.
Luna said the program gives his organization an opportunity to "give back," particularly to the host-nation community, and it also helps both the U.S. and Japanese sides strengthen their existing bilateral relationship.