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The Combined Arms Training Center at Camp Fuji, Japan, will entertain about 50 children from nearby Shizuoka City in a cultural exchange Wednesday.

The Marines will kick it off at 9:30 a.m. with a static display of military hardware and later guide the group to the base community center for pizza and soda, courtesy of Col. J.J. Tabak, Fuji’s commander.

“The Marines, sailors and civilians of Camp Fuji get a special treat when we get a chance to host children, particularly for the Marines and sailors who are so far away from their loved ones,” said Jon Dahlen, a Camp Fuji spokesman. “If only for a few moments, the Marines and sailors get the opportunity to set aside the rigors of tough military life and relax with children and just have fun.”

The children, who are in grades 3-9, hail from the Shizuoka Jodo-shu Youth Association, he said. They’ll be accompanied by about 30 Japanese adults.

The visit isn’t an annual event, but base officials hope it leads to more cultural swaps in the future.

“The beauty of hosting children is the fact that smiles easily replace complicated language barriers,” Dahlen said. “The response we get from the children is a genuine interest in our culture and way of life.”

Nearly two dozen Marines have volunteered to take part in Wednesday’s outing, he said.

The children will first get a look at some military vehicles, weapons, police cars and the Camp Fuji fire truck. They’ll also tour the base library — and hear a lesson from base officials about the importance of education and learning — before landing in the food court for lunch.


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