Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ship JS Shimokita (LST 4002) departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, May 20. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dustin W. Sisco)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMDSF) ships, landing ship tank JS Shimokita (LST 4002); destroyer JS Atago (DDG 177) and helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181) departed Pearl Harbor May 20 following a five-day port.

During the visit JMSDF sailors conducted wreath-laying ceremonies at the USS Arizona Memorial, National Cemetery of the Pacific, Makiki Cemetery and Ehime-Maru Memorial, and offered ship tours, while senior leaders conducted office calls with local military counterparts.

"These opportunities to renew relationships with our JMSDF counterparts are always valuable and rewarding," said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet. "The stop of the ships here and our frequent operations together are reflective of the strong relationship between the U.S. Navy and JMSDF that is such an important underpinning of the U.S.-Japan alliance."

Rear Adm. Hideki Yuasa, commander of Escort Flotilla 2, hosted a reception aboard Hyuga where guests, in addition to Haney, included Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command; Consul General Toyoei Shigeeda, and other senior U.S. and Japanese commanders.

Yuasa noted that the partnership between Japan and the U.S. is beneficial to maintaining stability throughout the region.

"The Japanese, U.S. alliance is vital to secure Japan's peace and security," said Yuasa. "Our alliance is also important for us to participate in multilateral security operations to effectively respond to global security challenges."

All three JMSDF ships are en route to San Diego to participate in multilateral exercise Dawn Blitz. Dawn Blitz is a scenario-driven exercise led by U.S. Third Fleet and I Marine Expeditionary Force that will test participants in the planning and execution of amphibious operations through a series of live training events.