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Okinawa Marines in the Asia-Pacific region

Okinawa, Japan
Local Law Students Visit Camp Foster to learn about Military Justice System

By Lance Cpl. Tayler P. Schwamb | Marine Corps Installations Pacific | September 8, 2017

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CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- style="margin: 0in 0in 8pt; text-align: justify;">Local law academics from the University of the Ryukyus met with three subject matter experts on the military justice and legal system for an informational brief Aug. 31 at the Legal Assistance Office aboard Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan.

Marines worked with the students in efforts to strengthen the relationship between the local and military community in Okinawa. They expanded the local law students’ knowledge on the differences in military and Japanese law. The Marine subject matter experts held an hour-long lecture with three professors and eight students from the university.

The class came at the university’s request with the goal of clearing up any misconceptions that the up-and-coming local law students may have had, according to one of the Marine subject matter experts, Lt. Col. Alison L. Daly, the staff judge advocate of Marine Corps Installations Pacific-Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Japan. Transparency and sharing information will continue to further the understanding of each nation’s laws and traditions.

Through presentation and the professors’ thorough translations from English to Japanese, the Marines educated the students on humanitarian operations, basics of the military justice system and the Uniformed Codes of Military Justice as well as the Status of Forces Agreement. The SOFA is an agreement that bridges that gap between local laws, the U.S. laws and the UCMJ. The UCMJ is the set of rules and standards that all service members are held to.

Other subject matter experts who presented included Lt. Col. Nicholas L. Gannon, the regional trial counsel and head prosecutor of the Pacific region, MCIPAC-MCB and Giovanni Avelar, a judge advocate with MCIPAC-MCB.

Judge advocates are licensed attorneys and officers in the Marine Corps. Each judge advocate advises their leadership on legal matters, oversees the Marine Corps legal community and acts as the military attorney for Marines. Judge advocates are part of the rigorous justice system that maintains good order and discipline, ensuring that the Marines are held accountable for all their actions.

The Marines answered a steady stream of questions about the military justice system throughout the presentation which helped build understanding of the military justice system.

“The more we educate up-and-coming lawyers about how seriously we take good order and discipline, the better our partnership will be,” said Gannon. “Every Marine in that room saw with their own eyes that the law students were extremely excited to be there. It made an impact on them. It also humanizes Marines … who wake up every morning with the goal of maintaining good order and discipline.”


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