SECURING ASIA-PACIFIC RELATIONS
U.S. Military Sustaining Ties
The U.S. Military Japan Alumni Association (USMJAA) was officially launched on May 28, 2010, at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. that was attended by its founders and other dignitaries, including Ambassador of Japan to the United States Ichiro Fujisaki. The Japan Journal’s Alex Hendy asked one of the Association’s founding members, Colonel George Newman, about the background and purpose of the Association.
This year marks the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Japan-U.S. Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. Under the provisions of the Security Treaty, more than 35,000 U.S. service men and women are stationed in Japan. In many cases U.S. service members are accompanied by family members, bringing the total number of those affiliated with the U.S. military residing in Japan to near 80,000. The strong alliance between Japan and the United States has provided the opportunity for many thousands of Americans and their families to develop deep and lasting friendships with their Japanese counterparts and hosts. The friendships and shared cultural experiences have universally contributed to the close bonds that characterize present Japan-U.S. relations.
General Richard Myers (left) and General Ralph Eberhart sign the U.S. Military Japan Alumni Association Charter, May 28, 2010. Colonel George Newman stands at left along with other attendees at the Signing Ceremony including Ambassador of Japan to the United States Ichiro Fujisaki (center).
Credit: COURTESY OF THE EMBASSY OF JAPAN IN THE UNITED STATES
USMJAA to Play “Vital Role”
Helping to renew and sustain these connections is the newly established U.S. Military Japan Alumni Association, which has been initiated through a joint effort of senior U.S. military commanders, among them two former chair-men of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the United States’ highest-ranking military office), General Richard Myers and General Peter Pace, as well as General Ralph Eberhart, former Commander of U.S. Forces Japan. The main focus of the USMJAA is to promote contact among U.S. military service members who have served in Japan; however, the Association includes both U.S. and Japanese military, diplomatic and government service personnel who have worked together jointly in support of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. The USMJAA is the first alumni association comprising U.S. military service members who have served at a foreign base and is likely to become the biggest U.S. military alumni association of any type.
According to Colonel George Newman, one of the USMJAA’s founding members, “the Association will play a vital role in sustaining and strengthening the friendship and common respect that exists between the United States and Japan. It will help us to retain and renew friendships among U.S. service members who have served in Japan as well as with the Japanese service personnel whom we met both in Japan and here in the United States.”
Colonel Newman was assigned to U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) at Yokota from 1994 through 1997. He served as Deputy Chief of Staff for the aforementioned General Myers and General Ralph “Ed” Eberhart, and also worked directly for the aforementioned General Pace. Colonel Newman and his family are a typical example of how close connections can be formed between U.S. and Japanese military personnel.
“While assigned to the USFJ, I had the op-portunity to work with many Japanese senior officers at the Ministry of Defense in Tokyo,” says Colonel Newman. “I am still in contact with several of these officers. Also my wife, Jane, who was a career Army Nurse, served in a U.S. Military hospital in Yokohama and Camp Zama, Japan, in 1968 through 1970. Jane enjoyed her assignment in Japan very much and was happy when we got the opportunity to return in 1994. She is currently a student of ikebana and serves as the president of Ikebana International, Chapter 1, in Washington D.C. She also enjoys studying the playing of the koto and is interested in the art of sumi-e
General Richard Myers, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)
General Peter Pace, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)
General Ralph Eberhart, USAF (Ret.)
Admiral Robert Natter, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
General Paul Hester, USAF (Ret.)
Lt. General John Hall, USAF (Ret.)
Lt. General Thomas Waskow, USAF (Ret.)
Lt. General Joseph Inge, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Lt. General Bruce Wright, USAF (Ret.)
Major General Terry Murray, USMC (Ret.)
Colonel George Newman, USA (Ret.)
To promote its four main objectives, the USMJAA has established a website at www.usmjnetwork.com
, enabling alumni to register themselves by recording their specific service experience in Japan. Once registered, alumni are able to access the site to make and pursue contact with other alumni as well as keep themselves informed about a variety of U.S.-Japanese topics of interest. In addition, the alumni will receive periodic e-mails informing them of planned U.S.-Japanese cultural and social events.
Meanwhile special focus is being given to organizing local alumni groups at U.S. military bases and in regions or cities with large retiree communities. Efforts are being made to establish a U.S.-Japan military alumni liaison with the nearest Japanese Consulate-General or Embassy in order to further promote U.S.-Japan information sharing and partnerships at the local level.