• Kyodo

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A former U.S. serviceman is offering recreational tours in the mountains and sea around a U.S. base in Yamaguchi Prefecture, with a goal of attracting military personnel there to learn about life outside the base and build ties with the local community.

Earlier this year, Edward Hosack, 40, organized a boat fishing tour in the Seto Inland Sea around Suo-Oshima, near U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. Five Americans with ties to the military participated.

“Oh, good-sized hamachi (yellowtail)!” exclaimed Devin Mackin, a 21-year-old Marine, during the tour.

Mackin, who caught two fat yellowtail, later said, “This is my first time saltwater fishing. Good tour, good experience.”

Fumiya Tajima, a 32-year-old fishing boat captain, said he appreciated that “Ed’s customers have good manners.”

In the past, Tajima has had issues with tourists, including language and cultural differences or problems with passengers drinking on board, but Hosack makes sure people on his tours follow the rules.

Hosack enlisted in the army at 18 and was temporarily transferred to the navy, serving at its Yokosuka base in Kanagawa Prefecture.

In 2010 he returned to the U.S. after sustaining an injury to his lower back and arm when his army vehicle was hit by roadway bombs in Iraq.

He later began work as an aircraft refueling truck driver at the Iwakuni base in 2012.

After marrying a Japanese woman, Hosack quit his job at the base and obtained permanent residency last year. He then launched his own tourism guide business out of neighboring Hiroshima Prefecture.

Thanks to word-of-mouth and advertising via Facebook, bookings for his tours have been on the rise and his offering has expanded to include destinations such as Hiroshima, Shimane and other nearby prefectures, with kayaking, paragliding and snowboarding also available in addition to fishing.

Hosack said he also plans to target foreign tourists traveling to Japan in the future and hopes his tours can play a part in improving the reputation of U.S. service members in Japan.

“I believe the more exposure the local Japanese community has will help deepen understanding that not all service members are bad apples. This is one of the main reasons I do the activities with them and to be a bridge. This will, in turn, bring a better understanding and improve community relationships.”

With the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, about 60 carrier planes had moved to the Iwakuni base from the Atsugi base in Kanagawa Prefecture by March 30. The number of U.S. military personnel living in Iwakuni, including their family members and civilian employees, has increased accordingly by some 4,000 to over 10,000.

Hosack said he hopes U.S. service personnel can learn from the communities where they have been stationed.

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