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Japanese Self Defense Force Medical Staff Supports Pacific Partnership 2011

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110709-02

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class R. David Valdez, Pacific Partnership 2011 Public Affairs

POHNPEI, Federated States of Micronesia (NNS) -- Medical officers from the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) provided support at a medical civic action project in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia, in support of Pacific Partnership 2011, July 8.

The JSDF joined the mission in Timor-Leste after initially pulling out of the mission due to the scope of recovery efforts following the earthquake and tsunami near Japan in March 2011.

The Japanese government and non-governmental organizations have participated in Pacific Partnership since its first mission in 2006.

"This event is very important for the stability of the Pacific region," said JSDF Ground Forces Maj. Toshihiro Yamasaki, joint medical plans and operations officer from the Ministry of Defense Joint Staff in Japan. "We believe that our work as a multinational team with a common goal is valuable, not only for us, the partner nations, but it sends the right message to our hosts as well. We are all one community."

In the Federated States of Micronesia, the JSDF contingent brought their expertise and support at a point when the Pacific Partnership medical team needed their assistance most.

"The mission here in FSM (the Federated States of Micronesia) is spread out over an area that covers about one million square miles," said Cmdr. Michael Smith, director of medical operations for Pacific Partnership 2011. "Here in Pohnpei, we have an additional emphasis on subject matter expert exchanges, and quite a bit of our team is operating in the other three states, Chuuk, Kosrae and Yap. While we're enthusiastic about serving this many people, having the additional support of these consummate professionals couldn't have come at a better time."

The JSDF joined the multinational team that includes representatives from Australia, Canada, Malaysia and Spain. New Zealand, France and Indonesia participated in the first half of Pacific Partnership 2011.

The presence of the JSDF contingent serves to highlight the importance of the key dimensions of Pacific Partnership: interoperability, preparation for humanitarian assistance/disaster response crises and sustainable improvements in the quality of life for the citizens of host nations in the Pacific.

"I am truly humbled by the resilience of the Japanese people, who in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami, still provided support for this mission," said Capt. Jesse Wilson, mission commander of Pacific Partnership 2011, and commander, Destroyer Squadron 23. "The lengths the Japanese have gone to support this mission demonstrate its importance in this region."

The Federated States of Micronesia is the fifth and final mission port for Pacific Partnership 2011, which has completed operations in Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste. In four mission ports, the Pacific Partnership team has treated more than 36,000 patients, cared for more than 1,500 animals, conducted more than 40 community service projects and completed more than 20 engineering projects.

Pacific Partnership is an annual humanitarian assistance initiative sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Born out of the aftermath of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, Pacific Partnership began in 2006 and has gone to many countries in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, treated more than 240,000 patients and continued to enhance interoperability with partner nations.

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