MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Six translators with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force participated in an English seminar at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Sept. 14-15, 2015.
Staff Sgt. Robert Durham, operations manager for American Force Network Iwakuni, and Sgt. Antonio Rubio, a combat correspondent with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, instructed the two-day seminar for the JGSDF students.
“The purpose of the seminar is to enhance the JGSDF’s English speaking abilities,” said Rubio. “This seminar helps these interpreters translate what’s going on with both the U.S. forces and Japanese forces during exercises or times of crisis, so if there are any problems, they can help correct the deficiency.”
During the seminar, the JGSDF guests learned how to interact with American military members by using common English phrases and idioms. As well they toured the installation, observed static displays and got an inside look at how Marines conduct physical training.
The JGSDF translators came up with potential scenarios when interacting with their American counterparts and developed exercises to better help them understand and respond in a manner that is comprehendible to both forces.
Participants even experienced some Marine Corps physical training as they paired up and completed various exercises, such as low crawls, fireman carries, push-ups and burpees.
“For the physical training portion, they said they wanted to train like Marines so me being a martial arts instructor, I had a few tools in my shed,” said Rubio. “By the end of it they were exhausted. They were pretty sore throughout the day, so I knew I did my job.”
Afterward, the Japanese service members toured the air station, allowing them to see how the station operates. They learned about various military occupational specialties like motor transportation, aircraft fire and rescue, and heavy equipment operating.
According to 1st Lt. Kengo Takada, a JGSDF instructor for the English seminar, the JGSDF personnel felt they received a quality learning experience and helped further develop the relationship between the U.S. and Japan.
“We enjoy this program because we get to spend time with the Marines and learn about what they do here,” said Takada. “Not only are we improving our English skills, but also becoming closer with the Marines. I learned a lot about the base, and it is impressive.”
As the ninth seminar held at the air station, both the JGSDF and Marines agree, this seminar is something that should continue as it holds high importance to breaking down the walls of potential language barriers.
“I hope, in the future, we can make this course longer, have more personnel get some one-on-one time with the Japanese and really help them enhance the quality of instruction that we are giving them,” said Rubio.