PEARL HARBOR - Approximately 40 Japanese soldiers and sailors assigned to Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMDSF) helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181), destroyer JS Ashigara (DDG 178) and amphibious tank landing ship JS Kunisaki (LST 4003) gathered aboard the historic USS Arizona Memorial on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a wreath-laying ceremony Aug. 4.
The wreath-laying ceremony was meant to pay respect to those who lost their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
“With covers removed, heads bowed in silence and bugles rendering honors, the [Japanese] sailors and soldiers stood at attention in their full dress uniforms while Japanese Rear Adm. Hirosi Oka, commander, Mine Warfare Forces, JMSDF, placed a wreath in front of the displayed names of the Sailors who dedicated their lives to their country,” said Lt. Cdr. Creighton Ho, foreign ship liaison officer assigned to commander, Navy Region Hawaii. “Which symbolized the utmost respect and honor given by the Japanese.”
After the ceremony, the Japanese service members toured the memorial; routinely stopping to read the information display stands located throughout the memorial.
Following the visit aboard the USS Arizona Memorial, the JMSDF service members went on to conduct wreath-laying ceremonies at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl and Makiki Cemetery, as well as visit the Ehime-Maru Memorial.
“This, along with other ceremonies scheduled to be performed today at Punchbowl and the Makiki Cemetery, is significant in strengthening relations between Japan and the U.S., where we are one family, sharing the same waters” said Creighton.”
According to Japanese Lt. Michio Hayakama, assigned to JS Kunisaki, visiting the memorial sites around the island plays an important role in building a better friendship and partnership with the U.S.
“It works out to improve communication and learn the background to what the other one is thinking, and that helps to understand each other better,” said Hayakama. “70 years ago what led us to war was a misunderstanding of each other, but now we think about each other and that helps us to have peace, which will naturally be passed down to the next generation.”
For Japanese Ensign Takeya Tsunokawa, assigned to JS Kunisaki, the opportunity to visit the memorial sites, like the Arizona Memorial, helps keep the history and the future of Japan in perspective.
“You don’t think about this normally everyday,” said Tsunokawa. “We do a lot of joint exercises and we have a really good relationship, but these moments, like today, you don’t really think about. We are the next generation, and it’s kind of hard, but you can’t just let it go, you have to learn the history ... You learn a lot from the past which helps you think about the future and where you’re headed. So whenever we have a chance like this, we participate and try and show respect and reflect.”
Following the schedule port visit in Pearl Harbor, the JMSDF ships are slated to arrive in San Diego and participate in the multilateral exercise Dawn Blitz 2015. Dawn Blitz is a scenario-driven exercise led by U.S. Third Fleet and I Marine Expeditionary Force that will test participants in the planning and execution of amphibious operations through a series of live training events.
Overall, Lt. Cdr. Creighton said events such as these help strengthen U.S.-Japan relations as it reinforces communication and cohesion between the two.
“The importance of maintaining U.S.-Japan relations reaches throughout the Pacific and the rest of the world as our missions become one to defend freedom across multiple warfare areas,” said Creighton.
|Date Posted:||08.04.2015 20:12|
|Location:||PEARL HARBOR, HI, US|
This work, Remembering the past to build a better future: Japanese Sailors visit historic memorial sites around Pearl Harbor and Hawaii, by PO2 Johans Chavarro, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.