By MC2 Diana Quinlan, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Detachment Hawaii
Sailors stationed aboard the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) helicopter destroyer JS Ise (DDH 182) and guided-missile destroyer JS Kirishima (DDG 174), in cooperation with Sailors stationed at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH), conducted a base cleanup Aug. 5 as a form of gratitude for the hospitality during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.
More than 30 Japanese officers and enlisted sailors along with U.S. Navy Sailors gathered together in the early morning outside of the Makalapa Clinic where Command Master Chief Kazuyuki Morita, senior enlisted aboard JS Ise, greeted JBPHH Command Master Chief Jack Johnson and service members of both navies.
“As a Japanese sailor, I wanted to do something for a long time to show appreciation to the host country but was unsure how to make this happen,” said Morita, who provided his input through a translator.
“It is a Japanese tradition, or spirit, that wherever you go, you want to make sure to leave the place you have visited clean, so this is what we’ve decided to do.”
Morita reflected on the importance of building good rapport on a personal and cultural level.
“Showing this Japanese spirit not only helps strengthen the connection as part of [RIMPAC] exercise, but also, outside of the exercise—just people to people—it establishes good nature and trust,” he said. “Today, Japanese and American navies bonded together to build up a good relationship.”
Johnson described the events leading to the joint cleanup.
“I received a phone call from Command Master Chief Kazuyuki Morita of the JS Ise and he asked if Japanese sailors could do a segmental base cleanup to show their gratitude for all the hospitality that joint base has provided during the RIMPAC,” said Johnson.
“I thought it was a great idea and suggested to make it a joint venture, so we can bond our relationships even more.”
Johnson also addressed the need for such events and gratitude for Japanese Navy’s outreach in building bridges between the two nations.
“Japan is always very hospitable to us when we pull into their ports and when our Navy has the opportunity to return that hospitality, we always do the best we can do,” he said. “Such event as today is a great opportunity to build bridges and friendships.”
Sailors from both navies intermingled as they covered both sides of North Road, continuing down Pearl Harbor Boulevard toward the shipyard. As they went, Sailors collected any trash left by the side of the road as they conversed about cultures and their families as well as places of interest in Hawaii.
Despite the cultural and language barriers, both sides found something in common and learned something new from each other as they went.
Upon reaching their final destination, Sailors came together to thank each other on cooperation and exchanged small mementoes and gifts of appreciation.
“This was a great opportunity, and this event leads to a good friendship between the U.S. and Japan,” said Lt. j.g. Tanji Sasabe, stationed aboard JS Ise. “I hope that we would do this type of events more often.”
The JS Ise is similar to light aircraft carriers operated by the world navies, and it is classed and operated primarily as anti-submarine warfare vessel, which utilizes an air wing of SH-60K helicopters to screen and escort convoys or maintain ocean areas clear of submarine threats