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Four German Navy ships arrived early Oct. 2 at Tokyo’s Harumi Pier, marking the first visit by a German naval vessel to Japan in a decade.The first-ever visit to Japan Oct. 2 by a task force of the Navy of the Federal Republic of Germany coincided with the seventh anniversary Oct. 3 of German unification. The German naval training ship Deutschland made the last visit here in 1987.The 4,875-ton guided missile frigate FGS Bayern, 3,800-ton guided missile frigate FGS Bremen, 3,466-ton landing craft repair ship FGS Glucksburg and 14,169-ton replenishment oiler FGS Rhoen berthed in the morning, hosted by the Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers Tachikaze and Murakumo.”We’ve been on an overseas training cruise to promote mutual understanding with various countries and ports through cultural exchanges,” said Capt. Richard Himstedt, commander of Task Group 501.02. “We’d like to visit here again to tighten ties with Japan without waiting another 10 years.”Himstedt and his 600 sailors aboard the ships were greeted at the berth by their overseas compatriots here and Japanese counterparts. To celebrate the anniversary of German unification Oct. 3, Vice Adm. Dirk Horten, commander in chief of the German Fleet, will also visit Japan by air, while Frank Elbe, German ambassador to Japan, will host distinguished guests in a reception aboard the ships.As part of recent efforts by Japan and Germany to build mutual defense exchanges, Horten will also meet with Adm. Kazuya Natsukawa, chief of staff of the MSDF in Tokyo, and Vice Adm. Mutsuyoshi Gomi, commander in chief of the Self-Defense Fleet in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture. The ships will be open to the public from 2 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 4.

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