Marines participate in Shizuoka Disaster Drill
SHIZUOKA, Japan -- Marines participated in the Shizuoka Disaster Drill Aug. 31 in Shizuoka prefecture.
The Shizuoka Disaster Drill is a semi-annual exercise conducted by the Shizuoka Prefectural Government.
Every 100-150 years there is a major earthquake in the Shizuoka prefecture, with the last earthquake occurring in 1854, according to U.S. Marine Capt. Ralph E. Lemaster, the future operations planner for 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III Marine Expeditionary Force. The focus for the 2014 Shizuoka Disaster Drill was deployment of assessment teams and observation of prefectural government-led operations in response to simulated disasters.
The Shizuoka Disaster Drill has been taking place since 1978, according to Lemaster, from Columbus, Ohio.
"We've been asked for the last two years to come out and participate in this exercise," said Lemaster. "We really started getting involved in this exercise after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan. Participating in this exercise helps us to maintain a relationship with the Shizuoka government, and it helps to familiarize us with the area."
Due to the geographic and geologic location of the Japan island chain, many of the coastal cities are prone to seismic activity.
"If an earthquake occurs in the Shizuoka prefecture, it will trigger a large tsunami and possibly the eruption of Mt. Fuji," said Tatsushi Ueda, the director of disaster countermeasure division for the Shizuoka government. "We don't hope that a disaster happens, but if it does we know that we can work together."
Following the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent tsunami, the Marines swiftly responded during Operation Tomodachi, according to Ueda. The operation was very effective because of the Marines' assistance.
It's very important for the U.S. Marines and Japan Self-Defense Force members to have the same understanding," said JSDF Capt. Shinichiro Takahashi, a III MEF liaison officer. "We need to (become familiar) with each other in the case we have to conduct any bilateral operations in an emergency."
"The Shizuoka government knows if another earthquake happens, the U.S. is going to help," said Lemaster. "The continuous relationship will help us to come in as rapidly as we can and help wherever it's needed."