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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Does a Japanese man or woman set your heart a-flutter? Do you know how to say “Be my Valentine” in Japanese?

Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s International Program Office in Yokosuka can help those at Yokosuka Naval Base cozy up to their Japanese sweethearts with a special Valentine’s Day translation service.

For the fourth year in a row, those who bring in a Valentine’s Day card or letter can have it translated for their special Japanese someone.

“A lot of people in Japan have Japanese girlfriends and wives,” said International Program Office specialist Miyuki Takezawa. “Our director, John Saito, thought this would be a good idea for couples who maybe don’t share the same language.”

Valentine’s Day especially is a holiday when one should be able to say those three little words, Takezawa said. And, if one isn’t ready for the “love” word … they can also translate “like,” she said.

English Valentine’s Day messages — take those found on chalky candy hearts, for instance — don’t translate well in Japanese.

“We don’t really say, ‘Be mine,’” said Takezawa. “We might say, ‘I like you,’ or, ‘Be my girlfriend.’”

She hopes more people take advantage of this service this year, she said. Only two people stopped in last Valentine’s Day, she said. One wanted something simple; the other brought in a beautiful love poem.

“That poem was so beautiful, I know the girl was happy to receive those words,” Takezawa said.

Petty Officer 1st Class Keith Tuskey is married to a Japanese woman and, after recommending the service for single sailors with Japanese love interests, he reconsidered and said he would get one for his wife.

“I think it shows a person’s interest and is definitely more romantic — that’s probably a good idea whether you’re single or married,” Tuskey said.

Granted, in Japan, it’s tradition for women to buy their Valentines chocolate — men are off the hook until “White Day” on March 14 when they are expected to shower the women in their lives with (usually more expensive) gifts.

But if you’re an American male who wants to catch the eye of a Japanese woman, don’t let tradition be an excuse to slack off on Valentine’s Day, advised Roger Huff, a retired sailor living in Japan.

“My response to that tradition was always, ‘I’m not Japanese,’” Huff said. “Make an effort to say ‘I love you’ or any other compliment that you can think of — it will be well worth it.”

Yokosuka’s International Program Office staff will translate Valentine’s cards or letters from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the International Program Office next to Starbucks on Feb. 14. For more information, call 243-7952.

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