OSAKA, JAPAN –U.S. Army Japan and the Japan Ground Self Defense Force prepare for the 2012 Yama Sakura 61 exercise at Camp Itami in Osaka, Japan, Jan. 23 – Feb. 6.<br /> <br /> Yama Sakura is designed to strengthen military operations between the two forces at the operational level and aid in the defense of Japan. <br /> <br /> “Partnership must be made from friendship,” said Sgt. 1st Class Takatoshi Izumi, an Infantry member of the JSDF, assigned as an interpreter for YS61. “Being able to communicate makes it better.”<br /> <br /> Yama Sakura builds a bilateral relationship between the two forces and provides a platform to learn the different work ethics.<br /> <br /> “Yama Sakura helps to exchange ideas and thought processes on how to handle major combat operations,” said Capt. Brittany Woods, Operations Officer for the USARPAC Contingency Command Post. “We need to develop that bond so that if anything ever happened, we’d have an established relationship beforehand.”<br /> <br /> More than 800 U.S. military personnel and over 3,500 JGSDF members are participating in YS61.