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NEWS | June 20, 2016

U.S. personnel clean-up 50 gallons of trash from river in Japan

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Indra Bosko, U.S. 7th Fleet

ZUSHI, Japan (NNS) -- Sailors, civilian employees, and family members from more than 16 commands in the Kanagawa Prefecture joined forces with local Japanese residents to spruce up the Tagoe River here, June 18.

The river has an abundance of tall grass filled with natural wildlife.

Helping clean up the Tagoe River is an annual tradition every spring for Americans living in the area. Roughly 200 volunteers armed with plastic gloves, walked knee deep in the river and helped each other step over the slippery river stones to collect 50 gallons of trash.

This year, participants were treated to a large population of black, white and multicolored koi fishes swimming freely in the river.

Seaman Logan Colwell, from U.S. 7th Fleet, said he felt the need to give back to the community, despite only being stationed here three weeks, emphasizing "he wanted to do his part to show that we respect the people of Japan and maintain the good relationship between two countries."

Chief Interior Communications Electrician Courtney Tillman told a crowd of Japanese residents at an impromptu opening ceremony, "as good neighbors living in the same community we are looking forward to promoting the Japan-America Friendship Exchange while working together to clean the river."

Vice Mayor of Zushi Atsushi Kashiwamura and committee members of the Tagoe River Project also welcomed and thanked all volunteers for their role in beautifying the city of Zushi and helping the community. Surrounded by rich green nature and low hills, Zushi, which also means crossroad in Japanese, is built on a sedimentary plain formed by the Tagoe River.

"Zushi is a very beautiful city," said Michiko Kamioka, community relations specialist for Ikego Heights, a U.S. Navy family housing community nearby.

"While we are working, we also further deepen Japan and U.S. relationships and friendships."

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