Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Training Squadron docked in San Diego from Wednesday, June 14 until Saturday, June 17. Led by Rear Admiral Koji Manabe, Commander of the Training Squadron, two JMSDF vessels – JS Kashima and JS Harusame – arrived with about 580 crew members, including 190 officer trainees who recently graduated the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Officer Candidate School. The Training Squadron will sail about 170 days, making 13 port visits in eight countries.
The Training Squadron sails with the purpose of training newly commissioned officers, promoting friendship with nations through port visits, and enriching understanding about Japan. San Diego has long served as a site for joint exercises between the JMSDF and the U.S. Navy.
On the evening of June 14, Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles Akira Chiba and Commander Manabe co-sponsored a reception aboard the JS Kashima. U.S. Navy Third Fleet commanders, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps officers, as well as Japanese and local community and business leaders from San Diego and beyond attended the reception. The reception kicked off with a traditional Japanese Kagami-biraki ceremony, where the lid of a sake barrel is broken open by a wooden mallet and sale is served. The ceremony symbolizes an opening to harmony and good fortune. Reception attendees enjoyed a musical performance by JMSDF members, as well as delicious Japanese cuisine prepared using fresh ingredients from Japan. New friendships blossomed through engaged conversation among participants, helping to strengthen the Japan-U.S. friendship.