Jan. 13 (UPI) — The U.S. Army and Japan’s Self-Defense Force participated in a bilateral parachute jump drill, a traditional New Year’s event in Japan.
Over 300 members of the Japanese 1st Airborne Brigade, the U.S. air Force and U.S. Army personnel of the 82nd Airborne Division and Army Reserve Alaska participated in Sunday’s jump, which involved three U.S. C-130J aircraft, two Japanese C-130H aircraft and two C-1 and one C-2 planes, all military transport aircraft.
“The New Year’s jump originally started back in the 1960s and became open to public viewing in the 1970s,” said Capt. Robert Frisch, 36th Airlift Squadron project officer.
“It is the prayer for safe deployment of chutes festival, where each year the JASDF [Japan Air Self-Defense Force] and the JGSDF [Japan Ground Self-Defense Force] get together and show the public their capabilities to do a joint jump on a small drop-zone area,” Frisch said. “That drop-zone location is at Camp Narashino, which is right on the border of Tokyo and Chiba Prefecture. It is pretty much in the city, allowing lots of people to attend.”
The event demonstrated cooperation between the Japanese and U.S. military forces, as well as preparation for potential attacks on Japan’s most remote islands. It was attended by Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono, who, wearing camouflage and a harness, participated by jumping from a 33-foot tower.
Kono later spoke of the importance of quickly moving troops in a country with many remote islands.
This year’s drill was the first time the U.S. Air Force participated.
“I cannot think of a better way to work than to do this event with the U.S. and express my deep appreciation to every U.S. soldier and airman involved in this New Year’s jump,” commented Maj. Gen. Shigeo Kaida, JGSDF 1st Airborne Brigade commander, adding that the event “isn’t just another event; it was an opportunity to learn from each other and improve together.”