U.S. soldiers and Japanese liaison officers can wear a unique uniform patch combining the Japanese and American flags, which was presented during a ceremony at Camp Zama, Japan, on Friday.
The patch can be worn on a soldier’s left shoulder sleeve, Army officials said during the ceremony.
“You are all part of history being made today in the most consequential region at the most consequential time,” U.S. Army Japan commander Maj. Gen. JB Vowell said in a press release.
“Together, [this patch shows] our resolve to stand with our partners in all aspects to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific with our anchoring allies and friends in Japan,” Vowell added.
The Pentagon is continuing to shift its attention to Asia and the Pacific Ocean as the gravity of U.S. foreign policy is drawn to China in the coming years.
The combined flag patch is a small token. But the release stated that it is intended to symbolize the bilateral partnership between Japan and the U.S., a relationship which is key to war and crisis plans involving China and North Korea.
U.S. Army Japan is under U.S. Forces Japan and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. The Army forces on Japan include a battalion from 10th Special Forces Group, an air defense artillery brigade, signals troops, transportation units and support forces.
U.S. soldiers are based on Honshu, Japan’s main island, and also Okinawa, where local residents have historically had a tense relationship with the U.S. military presence.