On Oct. 19, 2018, Capt. Florencio Yuzon and Lt. Francesla Sequeira attended a celebration honoring Region Legal Service Office (RLSO) Japan's own Ms. Kazumi Takahara (above, center) for more than 30 years of honorable service with United States Forces Japan (USFJ) and the Japanese Government.
Takahara-san, a Japanese master labor contractor, worked 16 years for the U.S. Army and has spent the last 15 years serving with the Legal Assistance Department at RLSO Japan. She passed the California Bar Exam in 2017, and, in December 2018, she will take the attorney oath to become a licensed California attorney.
"It is unfathomable to think about the number of Sailors and their families that Ms. Takahara-san has positively impacted over the years," said Capt. Florencio Yuzon, commanding officer, RLSO Japan. "The U.S. Navy and the Yokosuka Legal Community are simply better organizations by her mere presence."
The celebratory event, which was jointly hosted by USFJ and the Japanese government, took place at the Yokosuka Cultural Center, and it honored Japanese employees who have been working with USFJ for 10, 20, 30 and 40 years. Takahara-san was chosen to be the representative for the Japanese employees serving for more than 30 years; she took center stage and received a certificate of appreciation and coin.
"Ms. Takahara-san is an integral part of the legal assistance family," said Lt. Francesla E. Sequeira, Legal Assistance Department head. "She is an outstanding advocate, mentor, and member of our team. She goes above and beyond for every client and customer. There is no challenge Ms. Takahara-san has yet to overcome. Moreover, she is the glue in this department. Her knowledge and expertise is second to none. I'm honored to work with her and be part of her celebration. She is a shining example of the fantastic collaboration of our governments."
Reflecting on her career, Takahara-san said that her first full-time job, at age 20, was an administrative specialist position in the U.S. Army Inspector General's Office, and her English was "terrible." Frustrated callers would hang up on her, but her colleagues -- in the Army and, later, in the Navy -- were patient and supportive, encouraging her to pursue training and education. During her job interview 15 years ago with RLSO Japan, she said she hoped to take the bar exam. She credits her ability to accomplish this ambitious goal to the encouragement she received from her leadership and colleagues.
"During my length of service award ceremony, Capt. Yuzon and Lt. Sequeira kindly thanked me for my long years of service," said Takahara-san. "However, I feel that I should be the one to be thankful for all the training, support and encouragement that the U.S. military has given me and for providing me such an ideal working environment. As I look back, many faces of people who helped and inspired me come to my mind. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of them. Arigato gozaimasu!!"