Japanese training squadron visits Pearl Harbor

A three-ship Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) training squadron (JTS) began a three-day port visit at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam June 1 as part of an around the world deployment to 16 ports in 13 countries.

During the port visit, Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, toured the JTS flagship JS Kashima (TV 3508), reviewed sailors in formation and spoke to newly-commissioned Japanese ensigns about the strong and lasting U.S.-Japan partnership at sea.

“All of you embody this shared heritage, which is based on the past 70 years of the rule-based order that was forged in war and sustained in peace, and allowed our nations and many others in this region to achieve incredible levels of prosperity,” said Swift. “Maritime forces play a crucial role in guarding and sustaining this prosperity by preserving access for the broadest possible base of maritime nations in accordance with international law.”

More than 750 Japanese sailors and 200 newly commissioned ensigns are on the first leg of the 168-day cruise that will take them around the world while developing seamanship and leadership skills. The squadron also includes the training vessel JS Setoyuki (TV 3518) and the Asagiri-class destroyer JS Asagiri (DD 151).

While in Hawaii, members of the squadron laid wreaths at the USS Arizona Memorial, Makiki Japanese Naval Graveyard, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl Cemetery), and Ehime Maru Memorial. The JTS band also teamed up with the Pacific Fleet band for a joint engagement at the Ala Moana Shopping Center.

Additionally, JTS Commander Rear Adm. Hidetoshi Iwasaki, along with the three ships’ commanding officers, met with Swift and Hawaii Gov. David Ige on a goodwill visit aimed at promoting international friendship.

Later this month, JMSDF ships will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise scheduled June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands. Japan’s participation in the 2016 iteration marks the 19th time the country has participated in the exercise.