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Call it their 3½ minutes of fame.

On Saturday, two teams of 16 soldiers from Camp Zama, Japan, and 16 Japan Self-Defense Force members will battle for supremacy in an obstacle course and tug of war as part of a 25-hour television marathon on Fuji TV.

The event will take all day to coordinate and execute, but viewers can glimpse the competition in three 1-minute clips followed by a 30-second feed on Saturday night.

To honor the spirit of reconciliation and the end of World War II 60 years ago, Fuji TV invited the soldiers to join their telethon for an event titled “Japan-U.S. Friendship Sports Day.”

Fuji TV originally asked U.S. Army Japan to compete against members of the Japan Self-Defense Force, but both sides opted for something less adversarial, said Sgt. 1st Class N. Maxfield, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the U.S. Army participants.

Instead the U.S. and Japanese participants will be integrated into two teams.

“We thought that better represented the spirit of friendship,” Maxfield said.

Participants will begin the race with an obstacle course to include a low crawl, monkey bars and three buddy-assisted climbing walls. Participants will perform a patient rescue by carrying a stretcher with a “patient” who then leaps out and climbs a 10-meter rope, Maxfield said.

As people complete the course, they will race over and join the tug of war.

The event was scaled back slightly from Fuji TV’s original plans, Maxfield said, which included rappelling from a helicopter or climbing a high-elevation rope bridge.

The U.S. volunteers are enlisted soldiers from Zama. Half the team is from the U.S. Army Garrison-Japan Headquarters and Headquarters Company, including Maxfield, who is the noncommissioned officer in charge of Zama’s public affairs office. Others come from the 500th Military Intelligence Brigade detachment, U.S. Army Japan District Veterinary Command, U.S. Army Medical Department Activity-Japan and the 78th Aviation Brigade.

The event is part of Fuji TV’s annual 25-hour television marathon, which includes special episodes of regular programs and contests such as arm wrestling and dodgeball to decide the hottest local affiliate TV station, according to the network’s Web site.

Maxfield said the competition shows viewers the modern spirit of cooperation between U.S. and Japanese military members.

“I’m happy to have this opportunity to demonstrate to millions of Japanese viewers what good allies we are today,” he said.


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