On June 6, the Japan Coast Guard Academy (JCGA) training ship, KOJIMA, docked at Fells Point in Baltimore, MD. It’s been 40 days since the KOJIMA started its annual intensive ocean training with 36 cadets from Japan.
Baltimore was the KOJIMA’s third destination on its voyage: it first dropped anchor in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. In Honolulu, JCGA students met members of the US Coast Guard (USCG) and toured USCG Barbers Point. Also, the KOJIMA welcomed 6 cadets from the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA). While on route to Baltimore, the ship fostered friendships between US and Japanese cadets, facilitating cultural, linguistic, and academic connections.
During the visit to Baltimore, JCGA students strengthened ties with the United States by visiting USCG Headquarters and the US Naval Academy. In addition to academic exchanges, JCG KOJIMA opened its doors to the Maryland public. Captain Hiroyuki Nanaura invited guests to a reception, offering a Japanese traditional kendo performance and tea ceremony demonstration.
With 36 years of sister relations between Kanagawa Prefecture and Maryland, and the cities of Kawasaki and Baltimore, Maryland has a deep relationship with Japan. In 2016, Maryland became the third state to sign the Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) on Economic and Trade Relations with the Japanese government, highlighting the cooperation with Japan in the present Baltimore-Washington Superconducting Magnetic Levitation transportation project and the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project. In 2015, Maryland exports to Japan were valued at $400 million, making Japan the sixth largest importer of Maryland goods.
The camaraderie between USCG and JCG is significant. On June 17, when the US Navy Arleigh Berke-class guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with Philippine-flagged container ship near Japan, JCG was the first on scene and lead search-and-rescue efforts. Currently, USCG and JCG work together to enforce fisheries laws in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, enriching US-Japan military cooperation.
The KOJIMA said farewell to Baltimore and the USCGA cadets on June 10 to carry out the last of its training programs. The JCGA cadets will return to Japan on August 2 with valuable memories from the United States. Bon voyage!
Yeo-Ri Kim is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a Master's candidate in Global Policy Studies at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas.