SAGAMI DEPOT, Japan - Though rain was forecast a couple of days earlier, it was nothing but bright skies for the thousands of Japanese citizens watching a combined large scale natural disaster response training exercise held here, Sept. 1.
Each year, the first Sunday of September is set aside for disaster training within Japan, but at U.S Army's Sagami Depot, civil agencies from four prefectures and five cities plus Japan Ground and Maritime Self-Defense Forces and U.S. Army members made it into a large scale exercise showing a variety of response equipment and demonstrations of response tactics and procedures.
Helicopters from military and civil agencies, including an Army UH-60 Black Hawk from Camp Zama, brought in supplies and transported simulated patients during the exercise. Elsewhere on the field firefighters, police, military, utility companies and others took part demonstrating their honed skills. Immersed into the massive scenario were Sagami Depot and Camp Zama firefighters.
The devastating Great East Japan earthquake and subsequent tsunami of 2011 was on the minds of many of those in attendance as responders went through their paces. U.S. Army Japan and I Corps (Forward) also had a display set up to show Army support during what was dubbed Operation Tomodachi (Friends) when U.S. military forces went to the affected areas following the 2011 disaster. In addition, other agencies also had booths to provide information on disaster preparedness and service agencies.
According to Sagamihara City officials, who were in charge of the overall exercise, plans are already underway to make next year’s demonstration even bigger.