Thursday, June 11, 2015

Ambassador Kennedy visits Misawa

by Airman 1st Class Jordyn Fetter
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

6/11/2015 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy visited U.S. military and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force members at Misawa Air Base June 11.

As part of her first visit to the Aomori Prefecture, Kennedy stopped at Misawa to understand the role it plays as the only bilateral, joint-service air base in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and to see the positive relations fostered by U.S.-Japanese interactions here.

"The rebalance to Asia is the [U.S.] President's signature foreign policy initiative, and I think it will be something that, going forward, is going to prove to be tremendously important for the future of our country," Kennedy said. "I have a much better understanding of Misawa's role after hearing about it today."

As part of the visit, Kennedy, her cousin Maria Shriver and Shriver's children Patrick, Katherine, Christopher and Christina Schwarzenegger, met Misawa base leadership, Japanese Air Self-Defense Force generals and the Misawa City mayor for a tour of various aircraft. Subject-matter experts were on hand to explain the roles of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, JASDF F-2 Fighter, EA-18G Growler, P-3 Orion and P-8 Poseidon in protecting U.S. and Japanese interests in the Pacific.

"For us to be here and see the work you're doing and how closely we're working with the Japanese Self Defense Force is incredibly meaningful," Kennedy said. "It shows the power of reconciliation and the hard work that goes into reaching across and creating friendships with others around the world."

The distinguished visitors spoke with U.S. military members and their families during a meet and greet at the Misawa Officer's Club.

"What you go through is mind blowing," Shriver said. "I'm sure it's emotionally trying when you have loved ones far away. I have respect for what everyone here is going through and for the service you continue to display."

Kennedy also touched on the various types of involvement Misawa members have with the Japanese community including base spouses teaching English in the local elementary schools, hosting local students on base, and sponsoring American Day to help Japanese nationals learn about U.S. culture.

"Being back in Washington D.C. recently during the [Japanese] prime minister's visit, as well as serving in Tokyo, I see the importance of this for our country," Kennedy said. "All of you live and breathe the U.S.-Japan alliance every single day."

With further understanding of Misawa's interoperability, Kennedy will continue her tour throughout the Aomori prefecture.

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