Sol Kikuchi has always dreamed of serving in an IDF combat unit. Only 21-years-old, he recently realized that dream when he was awarded his red beret and inducted into the elite IDF paratroopers unit.
On Thursday, Kikuchi completed a 10 month long specialized training course when he finished the 50 plus kilometer march, signifying the end of his training and the receival of his highly coveted red beret.
Kikuchi, who grew up on the outskirts of Tokyo in a town called Bhatz’eogi, and whose father is an American Jew but whose mother is a Japanese Buddhist, decided that he would join the IDF after realizing that his planned career as a lawyer working for the Japanese police force was not for him.
His parents made the long journey from Japan to Israel to witness the ceremony in which the berets were handed out. Kikuchi told reporters at Israel Hayom that “while the march was not particularly difficult for him, the fact that his parents came was very meaningful to both himself and to them”.
Kikuchi immigrated to Israel ten months ago and originally stayed on Kibbutz Hazorah, which is located in the Jezreel valley, for a short time before enlisting in the IDF. He joined a three month Hebrew course which took place at the Michve Alon IDF education base in the north of Israel, before the official enlistment began.
When Kikuchi joined up he knew he wanted to do combat. “If I’m already joining up, I might as well go the whole nine yards and do combat. Ideally something like paratroopers,” he told reporters at the beginning of his service. He said it then, and he followed through with his promise.
“It is obviously very difficult to be alone in a foreign country. But I am very happy with my decision, and I am at peace with living here and being a combat soldier in the IDF,” said Kikuchi.
Eitan Broshi, the Secretary General of the Kibbutz Movement, said that, “Young people like Sol are the best ambassadors that Israel has. This is especially true when it comes to countries with a small Jewish population, and who are not so familiar with Israel.”
In 2011 the IDF sent a medical delegation of some fifty Doctors as well as specialists to Japan, in order to help with the nuclear crisis that occurred in the Miyagi district.
When Kikuchi immigrated, as with many others, he joined the kibbutz and as such was inducted into the army under the auspices of the kibbutz lone soldier program. Now that his parents are visiting and he is on holiday, they are staying with him on the kibbutz as well.
“I am very that they are here. Both of them have been very supportive. I am also excited for my vacation to be over and to join up with the rest of my platoon and get to some real combat action,” said the eager Kikuchi.