Followers to Friends: Japanese Twitter fans explore Kadena

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

What do a breathalyzer, a recycling center, a go-cart, and an MC-130J Commando II have in common?

They were all showcased to more than 35 visitors to Kadena Air Base during an observation tour which displayed the 18th Wing’s commitment to drunk driving prevention, stewardship of the environment, partnerships with local Japanese authorities, and world-class airpower.

“This tour is for local nationals who live not just around this base, but around Japan,” said Jin Hiya, 18th Wing Public Affairs media relations specialist and tour guide. “They’re our Twitter followers, so they have very little opportunity to see what’s going on at our base, who lives here and what they do, what roles we are playing in this corner of the world. This time we decided to bring them on base so they can see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears what’s going on and have some of those questions answered.”

“Many of them might have questions as the only exposure they have about the base [besides Twitter] is local media,” he added.

Hiya said his goal for the event was for visitors to have a feeling of familiarity with the base.

“I want them to feel closer to Kadena Air Base than ever before,” he said.

The tour began with the typical introduction and icebreaker, but a quick 18th Wing mission brief gave the visitors the context they needed for activities that would take place throughout the day.

During the tour, some visitors were surprised to see Okinawa Prefectural Police and 18th Wing security forces displaying their equipment side-by-side for photo opportunities while teaching the participants about how drunken driving incidents are handled on and off base.

“I was really interested in the DUI part. I never knew that Okinawa Police Department and security forces work together to prevent DUIs,” said Akira Sakugawa, tour participant. “I’m looking forward to seeing aircraft. I want to know more about the [Special Operations Group] and operational aircraft.”

Sakugawa said he’s excited to see what else the tour holds.

“I’m interested in aircraft, mainly the F-15 fighter and KC-135 Stratotanker, and the Twitter website,” he said. “It explains about the history about the base and I got very interested in that, so I follow them to get more information about the base.”

The group was then bussed to the recycling center where Victor Bertrand and Joji Komine, facility managers, described how trash is sorted and recycled, not unlike the everyday Japanese home.

After lunch at the base Exchange for some American food, the participants were bussed to the flightline where they saw a 353rd Special Operations Group MC-130J Commando II, met the aircrew and took photos.

The tour, also dubbed the “Twitter Tour,” was held partly in celebration of the Japanese-language 18th Wing Twitter account, which hit the 20,000-follower mark in October.

Translation of quotes from Japanese was provided by Shoko Tamaki, 18th Wing Public Affairs.