MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Matthew C. Perry Elementary School hosted Iwakuni Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda and several members of the local Iwakuni Agricultural and Societal Cooperative Associations during a mikan-presentation at the M.C. Perry Elementary Gymnasium aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Jan. 30, 2014.
The purpose of the event was to build a better sense of appreciation and understanding between Iwakuni residents and the M.C. Perry students. The local Iwakuni Agricultural and Societal Co-op presented M.C. Perry Elementary School with 20 boxes of mikans.
The mikan is a Japanese citrus fruit resembling a tangerine. It is seen as a significant symbol of Japan’s agricultural export business.
“(We gifted mikan to M.C. Perry Elementary School) and it’s a great illustration of how American children look forward to this annual gift, and I did feel their heart in excitement (of having mikan) here on site,” said Motoi Yoshimura, Director General & Chairman from Yamaguchi Oshima Agricultural Cooperative Association.
In addition to Mayor Fukuda and chairman Yoshimura, Kazunori Hayata from Iwakuni Hirojirushi Seika Co. Ltd. president-director, Mitsuo Okada from Iwakuni Produce Brokers’ Association chairman and Hitoshi Kihune from Iwakuni Produce Commission Merchants Association chairman also attended.
All of the elementary school students and staff attended the mikan presentation. Several students, who were on stage during the presentation, expressed their sincere appreciation for the mikans.
“For 4 years now, they have made a presentation of mikans as a gesture of friendship and when you have such an ongoing event, it gains more and more meaning because everyone looks forward to it,” said Larry Wahl, a psychologist at M.C. Perry Elementary School. “They hear the mikan presentation takes place, kids get excited and it continues to grow the relationship between Japanese locals and residents here on base.”
The opportunity to be a part of the event was something the children in attendance could take away and appreciate in the years to come.
“The mikans taste really good,” said Kia Craven, 10, an M.C. Perry fifth grader. “I would like to share this gift with everyone in the school.”
Wahl said it’s a great opportunity for these kids to see dignitaries come to the school and have these important men help inspire the students to become important members of society.
“These American children have a brilliant future, and they could do great things actively involved in the global community,” said Yoshimura. “No matter where they may be in the future, I hope the mikan oranges they enjoyed at M.C. Perry Elementary School will become their favorite memory.”
Yoshimura also said since the gift delights children so much, he is positive to continue this event in the future as much as possible.
The ability to have a successful and fruitful partnership between a host nation and the U.S. military has its roots in events such as this one. Iwakuni Mayor Fukuda and several members of the local Iwakuni Agricultural and Societal Co-op help make better, well-rounded ambassadors, even if they are still in elementary school by giving station residents the opportunity to experience the cultures outside their gates.