NEWS | Dec. 16, 2019

Japan Provost Marshal Visits Yama Sakura 77

By Spc. John Weaver

TOKYO, TOKYO, Japan -- The commander of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) military police, accompanied by Western Army, Eastern Army and Military Police School leaders, met with U.S. Army and JGSDF MP personnel during Yama Sakura 77 at Camp Asaka, Japan, Dec. 13, 2019.

JGSDF Maj. Gen. Susumu Umeda visited the camp to commend both forces for their combined effort in keeping good order and cooperating with each other.

“By conducting patrols together, we are able to enhance our nations’ relationship greatly,” he said.

Over the course of the exercise, military police from both nations conducted side-by-side courtesy patrols throughout the camp, working together to ensure operations across the camp ran smoothly.

“As guests in their camp, we work to ensure that the relationship stays strong between the U.S. and Japan by policing up people, making sure they know the regulations here and enforcing the standards,” said Sgt. 1st Class Angel Rodriguez, U.S. Army, Japan force protection non-commissioned officer in charge. “Any camp so far that I’ve participated in for Yama Sakura - we have left long-lasting relationships, because we’ve enforced the standard.”

During the day, JGSDF and U.S. forces would conduct operations together out from a centralized office, where they ended up bonding over more than just work.

“We’d talk about a lot of things, and were able to deepen our mutual understanding,” said Sgt. 1st Class Yoshitomo Kotake, Military Police, JGSDF. “Our organization and systems are a little different from each other, but through this bilateral exercise, we can understand each other.”

The MPs would often used their free time during breaks and lunches to exchange food, customs and jokes.

“They made bento boxes for us, instead of MREs,” said Spc. Ty Williams, military police with the 88th Military Police Detachment.

Williams said JGSDF MPs also conducted a traditional tea ceremony with their U.S. counterparts, as well as calligraphy and origami classes.

Before the end of the exercise, the JGSDF also gifted them with personalized chopsticks and plaques with their names and the meaning of those names written in Kanji.

“We don’t disrupt that friendship,” said Rodriguez. “That’s what I care about - that’s what we all care about. That’s what is important for us.”