CAMP FOSTER, Japan - Learning the Japanese language presents various difficulties and opportunities to both Marines and their families.<br /> <br /> The difficulty of the language notwithstanding, learning Japanese provides service members and their families with opportunities to enhance their cultural awareness, communicate more efficiently, and to make interactions with local community members even more pleasant.<br /> <br /> Basic Japanese classes are offered through the Marine Corps Community Services Personal Services Center. The classes are taught by bilingual volunteers and are offered on all Marine Corps facilities.<br /> <br /> “Learning and using Japanese while in the local community creates a positive impression of our service members and their families, as it tells our Okinawan neighbors we respect their culture and want to learn more about it,” said Joseph R. Cassidy, the program manager with Family Programs and Resources at the PSC.<br /> <br /> The ability to communicate with Okinawan hosts, allows for easier transactions to take place in-town and on U.S. military installations.<br /> “Knowing some Japanese enables a far greater understanding of what is available off base, but it also allows service members and their families to interact and communicate more effectively,” said Cassidy. “It also helps with meeting and making friends in the Okinawan community.”<br /> <br /> The act of making friends with Okinawans improves the U.S. service members image and allows for neighbors to communicate easier. Learning Japanese makes that more attainable, according to Michiko Urasaki, a community relations specialist with the PSC.<br /> <br /> “I feel it makes them more comfortable to venture off base and explore what the local community has to offer, particularly the shopping and eating venues,” said Urasaki. “It also allows them to interact and talk with their neighbors, especially if they live off base and helps them learn more about the Japanese and Okinawan cultures.”<br /> <br /> To learn more about Japanese language classes offered, contact the Camp Foster PSC at 645-2104.