Japanese youths complete U.S. air base internships


Twelve Japanese students from a municipally operated language institute in Kadena, Okinawa Prefecture, recently completed internships on the U.S. air base in the town to experience working in an American environment.

Amid public concerns over aircraft noise and various other problems involving the Kadena Air Base, the 12 students, who are studying at the Kadena Language Institute, expressed enthusiasm for their experiences on the base.

The students, who completed internships at an American school and other facilities, including U.S. military offices on the base, say there may be problems involving the facility, but they believe internships in an American setting in Japan are a unique experience that only Okinawa can offer.

Kaori Kudaka, 19, a second-year student at the institute, served as an assistant to an American teacher of a fourth-grade elementary class on the base.

Kudaka said she learned that if she tried hard, her English was good enough to enable her to communicate with the children, and she expressed a desire to work in a nongovernmental organization and help Asian children.

The institute is open to people aged 18 to 20 who have graduated from high school and live in Kadena. Classes are free of charge.

The institute opened in 1998 using funds from the Japanese government’s base-related expenses with the aim of developing human resources that can promote internationalization.

Kadena Mayor Tokujitsu Miyagi has said that if the town has no land to cultivate, it might as well cultivate intellect. The base occupies about 80 percent of the town.

During their two years at the institute, students are taught English language skills and computer proficiency, and are banned from using the Japanese language. The institute also offers monthlong home-stay programs abroad.