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Welcome aboard DDH 143 Shirane!

By: Marie W. Conway

Date Posted: 2000-02-04

The people of Okinawa gave a warm welcome to the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JASDF) on Friday, January 28th, aboard the DDH143 Shirane. Five ships had arrived the previous day from Nagasaki Prefecture. The Shirane held a ceremony, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., in honor of 176 midshipmen who will receive their commissions in March this year.

These men and women went through an Officer Candidate School (OCS) for a year of rigorous training, after graduating college. All of the midshipmen (ages of 23 and 27) were enthusiastic about their festive tour of Japan. Guests at the ceremony and military members enjoyed talking about Okinawa and the first ever midshipmen tour around Japan.

The Commanding Officer of theShirane, Yasuhiro Mukuo, explained to Japan Update that the rising number of applications for positions in that sector are linked to the end of the bubble economy. “I believe the increase is due to the stability and security the military career offers to its public servants,” he said.

However, many of the midshipmen gave a variety of reasons related to why they wanted to join JASDF. Yasuko Hatori, one of 10 women OCS graduates, said she hopes to be an accounting or supply officer. “After traveling around the world, I still take great pride in my country and I want to be part of an organization protecting its laws and values,” she added. As for Kousuke Tanaka, he wants to be just like his father, who flew the SH60 J helicopter for JASDF. Tanaka’s father was killed in a helicopter crash when Kousuke was only 10 years old. In Tanaka’s words, “My love for my father is motivating me to be just as ambitious and courageous as he was.”

The Shirane, along with 4 other ships, will continue traveling in a counterclockwise direction around Japan. They will visit Kagoshima, Otaru, Aomori, Kyoto, and Hiroshima during their 30-day tour.

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