Maintenance window scheduled to begin at February 14th 2200 est. until 0400 est. February 15th


Forgot Password?

    Defense Visual Information Distribution Service Logo



    Photo By Yoshie Makiyama | Attendees watch a video on safe driving in Okinawa.... read more read more



    Story by Yoshie Makiyama 

    Marine Corps Installations Pacific

    Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost prefecture, is home to thousands of Marines, sailors, civilians, and contractors, who are stationed at Marine Corps facilities, along with their families.

    For new arrivals, the Personal and Professional Development–Resources Program, Marine Corps Community Services Okinawa, facilitates a mandatory Newcomers Orientation Welcome Aboard brief to have them learn about their new home. The class takes place every Wednesday, throughout the year.

    The in-person NOWA brief resumed June 1, for the first time in almost two years, at the Camp Foster Community Center. The brief was forced to shift online in October 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

    NOWA is required for all accompanied Status of Forces Agreement personnel and their families, including children 10 years and older, as well as unaccompanied Marine and Navy staff noncommissioned officers and officers, all civilians, to take within 72 hours of their arrival in Okinawa.

    Unaccompanied Marines and sailors of ranks E-1 through E-5 attend the Joint Reception Center brief, separate from NOWA, but more specific to their training needs.

    "The intent of the NOWA brief is to provide an effective indoctrination training program, which educates SOFA status personnel and their families, prepares them for a successful and enjoyable tour in Japan, and to reduce misconduct and violations of law," stated Anabel Hayden, supervisory resources specialist with the Marine and Family Program, MCCS Okinawa.

    Representatives from multiple departments and offices explained not only the military community programs and services available to them, but also the customs and culture of Okinawa and their responsibilities as a member of this military community.

    The first person to brief the audience was Sgt. Maj. Joy M. Kitashima, former sergeant major, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, who also handled the virtual NOWA online training videos during COVID.

    Along with explaining curfews and off-limit areas, she provided an overview of what to expect while stationed in Okinawa, including fun and recreational areas such as beaches, festivals, tug-of-wars and parks, as well as more local sensitivities such as the 1995 incident that greatly affected the relationship between the U.S. military and Okinawan communities, and the Futenma Replacement Facility.

    Kitashima, who attended the NOWA brief with her family during her last tour on Okinawa in 2014, said that she did not know what she did not know. "Everyone said to the newcomers to behave but did not say how amazing Okinawa was or how they could get involved with its people.

    “Life is different here in Okinawa. It’s amazing. It’s beautiful and people are incredible,” said Kitashima. “However, actions of families and service members could have potential consequences if they are not thoughtful.”

    According to Kitashima, the briefs are based on what is occurring at the time. If there are liberty incidents or misconduct, the presenters put more weight on such topics because the Marine Corps wants to prevent incidents from happening again in the future.

    “Be professional, we are here to represent all of the U.S.,” Timothy J. Morello, deputy assistant chief of staff of G-7, Government and External Affairs, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, stated during his session.

    Morello talked about how an incident such as driving under the influence would have a tremendous impact on the community. He emphasized that if people do not obey the law in Japan, they will serve time in Japanese prison.

    “‘Not One Drop’ campaign is real,” he said, referring to the Marine Corps' campaign against drinking and driving. In Okinawa, the blood alcohol content for a DUI is only 0.03% (0.3mg/ml), vice 0.08% (0.8mg/ml) for the U.S.: one drink is enough to put people over the limit.

    One participant—who only wanted to be identified by her first name, Jennifer—had never been to Okinawa and attended the brief with her children. Although many portions were geared more to adults, having teenagers, she appreciated the information because it helps them understand how their behavior can make a difference in the community.

    “A lot of information focused on expectations and rules, and community relations that we realized are important as well, but the cultural information after lunch, we really enjoyed,” said Jennifer. “It helps us feel like we know a little more about coming into our new home.”

    Her 15 year-old son expressed that the biggest takeaway was the cultural awareness dos and don’ts in Japan, and the water safety video because, though they have been around many beach communities, they have never been to beaches with reefs and numerous diving locations.

    Newcomers to Okinawa also have to complete NOWA before being eligible to receive driving privileges in Okinawa. Those with a valid driver's license that wish to drive, will watch a 10-minute video which gives an idea of how to drive in Okinawa and take the driving test at the end of NOWA.

    The highest obstacle will be driving on the opposite side of the road from the states, and the speed limits marked in kilometers per hour. The video shows narrower roads compared to standard American roads, traffic congestion, and explains coral dust-laden roads being slick when it rains.

    As the first in-person brief in nearly two years, this class was smaller than years past, with only 66 participants. Future briefs are expected to garner more than 100 participants as the summer PCS (permanent change of station) season ramps up.
















     海兵隊の飲酒運転撲滅キャンペーン「ノット・ワン・ドロップ(一滴もダメ)」は言葉通りだ」とモレロ氏。アメリカでは飲酒運転の血中アルコール濃度は 0.08%(0.8mg\ml)だが、沖縄では 0.03%(0.3mg\ml)であり、一杯でも飲めば基準値を超えてしまう。


     「多くの情報は、期待や規則、地域社会との関係性に焦点を当てたもの でしたが、それらもまた重要であることがわか りました」とジェニファーさん。「しかし、昼食後の異文化紹介は、本当に楽しいものでした。新しい土地で暮らすにあたって、より多くのことを知ることができたと思います。」







    Date Taken: 09.12.2022
    Date Posted: 10.02.2022 19:50
    Story ID: 430442
    Location: OKINAWA, JP

    Web Views: 224
    Downloads: 0