MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers came aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for an annual English clinic held by the station Public Affairs Office Feb. 26-27.
The English clinic was part of a weeklong annual English seminar conducted by the 13th Brigade Headquarters on Camp Kaitaichi, concluding with the Test of English for International Communication.
The TOEIC is an English language proficiency test that measures the everyday English skills of people working in an international environment, according to https://www.ets.org.
“It’s very important for the soldiers to learn English because we do a lot of training with U.S. Military members,” said Capt. Yushi Nakamura, officer in charge of the English program with the JGSDF. “The better we are at English, the more effective the training will be.”
Their time spent on MCAS Iwakuni was less about learning the language and more about applying it. The Japanese soldiers had the opportunity to interact and converse with Marines in English, a chance that they rarely receive, said Nakamura.
“It was a great opportunity to have a real conversation in English,” said Sgt. Yasuyuki Yamada, an English seminar student with the JGSDF. “I really improved my English skills, especially the conversation portion.”
According to Nakamura, the Marines were eager to talk and that helped build the soldiers’ confidence.
During the clinic, the JGSDF members received a pronunciation class, played basketball with the Marines and viewed static displays of military vehicles and aircraft.
“My favorite part of the clinic was the static displays of the armored vehicles and fighter jets,” said Nakamura. “It’s very impressive and we don’t get the chance to see that normally.”
Besides the impressive static displays and English conversation, this event helped strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and Japan, said Yamada.
“The U.S. and Japan have a very good relationship and I want to continue building this relationship in the future,” said Nakamura.
At the end of the clinic, the Japanese soldiers wrote down what they liked and disliked. After all JGSDF members had their turn, the most common complaint was: their time aboard MCAS Iwakuni wasn’t long enough.