CAMP ASAKA, Japan –
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy visited U.S. service members and members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
Kennedy toured the camp as troops were gearing up for the start of Yama Sakura 67, a bilateral command post exercise between the U.S. and Japanese forces using computer simulations.
"It's a great honor to be the U.S. ambassador to Japan and every day I see all of this brought to life.," Kennedy said.
Kennedy was given a tour of the facilities by Lt. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, the commander of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington's I Corps, Maj. Gen. James C. Boozer, the commander of U.S. Army Japan and Lt. Gen. Koichi Isobe, the commanding general of the JGSDF Eastern Army.
About 6,500 service members from both militaries are participating in the bilateral exercise including JBLM-based Soldiers from I Corps Headquarters and 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command.
Lanza stressed the importance of the U.S./Japan relationship and the role YS-67 plays in strengthening the bonds between the two nations.
"Yama Sakura is not an isolated training event," said Lanza. "It is, in fact, strategically important to Japan, the region, and, more importantly, our continued alliance between the United States and the great nation of Japan."
"I feel so fortunate and tremendously inspired every time I visit U.S. Forces Japan or self-defense forces and see this alliance come to life," Kennedy said.
Yama Sakura has been an annual bilateral exercise since 1982 and features activities designed to create bonds between the two cultures. Yama Sakura is scheduled to end Dec. 14.