By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
(YOKOSUKA, Japan) － The Japan Ministry of Defense’s South Kanto Defense Bureau (SKDB) hosted its annual Length-of-Service Award Ceremony for U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) Master Labor Contract (MLC) employees at the Yokosuka City Cultural Hall, Oct. 23.
SKDB and U.S. Navy representatives expressed gratitude to 442 MLC employees for their dedicated service and honored their 10, 20, 30 and 40 years of service with Length-of-Service Awards. Of the 442 honorees, 4 were recognized for 40 years of service; 152 for 30 years; 164 for 20 years and 122 for 10 years.
Almost 40 percent of the honorees, 165 of the 442 recipients, came from Yokosuka’s Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC). Two SRF-JRMC employees had 40 years of employment at SRF-JRMC, 69 had 30 years, 48 had 20 years, and 46 had 10.
“I would like to congratulate [everyone] on your recognition for many years of service,” said Hideki Tsuchimoto, Director General, South Kanto Defense Bureau, Ministry of Defense to the 422 employees.
“I hope you will succeed in your future duties by making full use of your rich knowledge and experience, and contribute as a bridge between Japan and U.S. through your daily communication at your workplace,” added Tsuchimoto.
Gratitude and respect were shared by leadership from the U.S. Navy in Japan.
“On behalf of the United States Naval Forces in Japan, I would like to congratulate the employees here for your long and dedicated service to our two countries,” said Capt. Steven J. Wieman, Deputy and Chief of Staff, U.S. Naval Forces Japan in a speech he gave in Japanese. Wieman said he gave the speech in Japanese to better convey his feelings to the employees. According to his secretary, he wanted to use natural and idiomatic expressions exclusive to the language.
“In addition to Commanding Officers who are present,” added Wieman. “Many other U.S. Naval officials, military and civilian and other Navy officials for whom duty precludes attendance today, sincerely appreciate your unwavering efforts and direct contributions to our mission of keeping peace and regional stability.”
“We have been able to serve our duties,” Hitoshi Kato of SRF-JRMC’s Safety Department said on behalf of the award recipients “without any serious mistakes in the environment, having done our best at our respective duties for the past ten, twenty, thirty and forty years.” Kato received recognition for his 30 years of service at the ceremony.
“As a Safety Manager of SRF-JRMC, to accomplish our mission in ‘keeping the 7th Fleet operationally ready,’ I will continue to do my best in developing the safer work environment for all personnel involved in ship repair.”
Sentiments shared by a number of employees were recognized at the award ceremony.