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Members of the 20th Operational Weather Squadron clean up debris outside the gate of Yokota Air Base, Japan, in March. Staff Sgt. Kimberly Green and 1st Lt. Ric Brunet thought of the project, which soon became a company activity. Green said, “You can see all the Japanese locals looking at us, wondering what we’re doing. It’s nice to get out and show them that we care about the community.”

Members of the 20th Operational Weather Squadron clean up debris outside the gate of Yokota Air Base, Japan, in March. Staff Sgt. Kimberly Green and 1st Lt. Ric Brunet thought of the project, which soon became a company activity. Green said, “You can see all the Japanese locals looking at us, wondering what we’re doing. It’s nice to get out and show them that we care about the community.” (Christopher B. Stoltz / S&S)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Hoping to reinforce the good things the U.S. military does in Japan and Okinawa, senior enlisted leaders have drafted a blueprint aimed at boosting local community relations.

“A lot of negative gets talked about,” U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. James Roy said Thursday. “Unfortunately, that small part at the top of the iceberg gets involved in bad incidents and bad conduct. The reality is the masses are doing tremendous things for us on and off base. We want to highlight the very positive things going on and keep encouraging the positive behavior in our people.”

During a three-day “Living Well in Japan” summit held in June at Tama Hills Lodge, ideas were swapped, base programs compared and their merits highlighted. Twenty top enlisted leaders took part, representing all service branches and every installation in Japan and Okinawa.

Roy compiled the highlights into a “best practices” outline available for use by all bases. It targets servicemembers, families, Defense Department civilians and contractors.

Among the document’s featured points: a “Find the Fun” program at Kadena Air Base encouraging airmen and families to tour Okinawa, a Japan Airlines agreement in which Misawa personnel can get discounted airline tickets during their birth month, creation of an Airman’s Center at Yokota, a SWEEPERS effort at Sasebo Naval Base in which sailors volunteer to clean up International Boulevard, free Wi-Fi at base facilities, various activities for single servicemembers and designated-driver programs containing volunteer incentives.

“We want to adhere to our high standards and work hard but also get an opportunity to have healthy recreation that sustains our morale,” said Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, USFJ and 5th Air Force commander. “Our people work long hours and handle a very difficult mission.”

Air Force Col. Anne Morris, a USFJ spokeswoman, said the June summit was put together in the wake of several high-profile cases involving Yokosuka Naval Base sailors, including the Jan. 3 beating death of a 56-year-old Japanese woman.

“We wanted to bring the focus back and look at what foments good behavior,” she said. “Let’s get into our culture and get involved with our people’s lives.”

In November, the senior enlisted leaders are to meet again to discuss off-duty conduct and strategies for the “deglamorization of alcohol,” Roy said.

“It’s all about troop support,” he said.

“This is a new effort for us and I think it’ll continue to grow … The topics we dive into in the future get even tougher. Hopefully, we’ll be able to bring together solutions and recommendations for commanders to make it better living well in Japan.”


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