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Japanese officer exchange program enhances U.S., Japan interoperability

US Marine Corps News

By Lance Cpl. Aaron Henson | June 20, 2016

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force aviation officer cadets visited Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, as part of the Japanese Officer Exchange Program hosted by Marine Aircraft Group 12 June 17, 2016.

The exchange program aims to enhance the understanding and working relationships between U.S. and Japanese pilots.

During the visit, 30 students from the JMSDF Ozuki Aviation Training Squadron from JMSDF Ozuki Air Base, Shimonoseki, toured the air station to see up close F/A-18C Hornets belonging to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122, took turns flying an F/A-18 flight simulator and learned MAG-12's mission, organization, equipment, operations and flight training.

"We came here to understand the operation between the U.S. and Japan, and improve our knowledge as officer candidates," said JMSDF Petty Officer 3rd Class Reo Hashimoto, an aviation cadet. "We toured the facilities, experienced the flight simulator and learned the operations of an F/A-18C."

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Eric Brye, Marine Aviation Training System Site officer in charge with MAG-12, said these visits provide our personnel and the JMSDF an opportunity to observe the activities of each other's organization in order to increase mutual understanding, provide professional knowledge and invaluable interaction.

"By having productive interactions with young JSDF personnel, we're able to build relationships for the future, which is critical to joint defense and overall stability of the area," said Brye.

Visiting the air station provided the cadets with the opportunity to interact with U.S. Marines and gain a greater knowledge and understanding of their present condition in Japan.

"These cadets are the future leaders of the JMSDF for the next 10 to 20 years," said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Daniel Lane, a pilot with VMFA-122. "By hosting these tours, we create personal bonds. As they progress through their careers, I feel they will have a better understanding of our mission and purpose."

Brye said he would like to see these tours continue in the future in order to continue strengthening U.S. and Japan relations and interoperability.

"These tours are important to keep a strong foundation of cooperation and mutual respect," said Brye. "I enjoy watching the visitors interact with one another and seeing how much of our interactions are universal and translate through any language barriers."

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