Congratulations to USJC Associate Kevin Otsuka (ELP '17) on being selected for Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia - Social Entrepreneurs! Kevin founded ABC Coffee Club, a startup social enterprise in Tokyo operating its own cafe and mail subscription service. The subscription partners with the Japan Social Employment Council to support individuals with intellectual disabilities. The cafe also serves as an innovation and creator hub for local makers and artists, and holds events and a free monthly gallery to showcase their work. Click here or on the image above to read more.
USJC Associate Robin Lewis was featured on CNN for a special segment commemorating seven years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. He spoke about his work with Explore Tohoku and his journey on foot along Japan’s tsunami-affected coastline documenting the recovery of the area. Click here or on the image above to watch the segment.
Congratulations to USJC Associate Colby Takeda (ELP '16) for being awarded Willamette University's Young Alumni Leadership Award! Colby was recognized for being one of the nation's youngest administrators of an assisted living community for seniors, and his work connecting the youngest and oldest populations for stronger intergenerational relationships. Click here or on the image above to read more about Colby's accomplishments.
Congratulations to Member of the Board of Councilors and Chef and Restaurateur Roy Yamaguchi on being inducted into the Robert Chinn Foundation's 2018 Asian Hall of Fame! The Asian Hall of Fame is a national recognition event for Asian Pacific Americans that honors achievements across industries. Mr. Yamaguchi will be honored at an induction ceremony on May 5 in Seattle, WA. Click here for more information.
On February 7, USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye was honored by the Ford Foundation, where she previously served as trustee and Chair. She was honored as one of two outgoing trustees at an event held at the United Nations in New York. Several USJC members were in attendance, including Legacy Council members Gary Moriwaki and Susan Onuma, and Council Leaders Kiyo Matsumoto and Akiko Otani (who is also USJC Director of Development).
(L-R) Ms. Ko Chin; Irene; Darren Walker (center), President of the Ford Foundation; Ms. Sasaki; and Mr. Ferris
Leaders of other organizations in which Irene is involved also came to celebrate her. This included Kathy Ko Chin, Trustee at the Kresge Foundation; Lisa Sasaki, Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center; and James M. Ferris, Director of the Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy at the University of Southern California (USC). (Irene is Chair of the Smithsonian Institution Asian Pacific American Center, member of the Advisory Board at the USC Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy and a former Trustee and past Chair at the Kresge Foundation.)
This month, Member of the Legacy Council Allen Okamoto and Council Leader Gary Mukai each received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays from the Government of Japan. Their decorations were part of the 2017 Autumn Conferment. Many USJC members in Northern California attended the ceremonies that San Francisco Consul General Jun Yamada held for each of the leaders.
Mr. Okamoto was recognized on February 14 for his contributions to the promotion of friendship and mutual understanding between Japan and the United States, including his work as co-chair of the San Francisco Osaka Sister City Association, co-chair of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival and President of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California.
Consul General Yamada with Mr. Okamoto
Dr. Mukai was recognized on February 8 for his contributions to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening U.S.-Japan relations through education, especially as Director of the Stanford Program on International & Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE). Member of the USJC Board of Councilors Dr. Daniel Okimoto (who is also Stanford Professor Emeritus of Political Science) made remarks at the ceremony, and USJC members including Associate Rylan Sekiguchi (who wrote this article for SPICE) were in attendance.
Consul General Yamada pinning the ribbon on Dr. Mukai
Several USJC members were instrumental in recognizing "Fred Korematsu Day" (January 30, which would have been Mr. Korematsu's 99th birthday this year) in their communities.
Mr. Korematsu was a civil rights activist who fought against Executive Order 9066, which authorized the internment of Japanese and Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II. Several states recognize January 30 as "Fred Korematsu Day," which is the first such commemoration for an Asian American in the United States. (Google also honored him with a Google Doodle last year, which was widely shared.)
This year, New York City held its inaugural celebration. Last December, the New York City Council passed a resolution to establish January 30th as an annual observance. Speakers at the event included Council Leader Julie Azuma (who is a Founding Member of the New York Day of Remembrance Committee) and Karen Korematsu, Founder and Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute. Several USJC members attended, including those who are affiliated with Japanese American organizations that co-sponsored the event. (Click here to read the announcement by JapanCulture-NYC.com (run by Council Leader Susan Hamaker) and here to read a post in The New York Times.)
Separately, Council Leader Ken Russell, who is Commissioner of the City of Miami, issued a proclamation that January 30th would be Fred Korematsu Day in Miami (pictured in the screenshot below with Council Leader Jose Fuentes (right of Mr. Russell)).
Member of the Legacy Council Colbert Matsumoto was featured in The Hawaii Herald for receiving The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette from the Government of Japan. Consul General of Japan in Honolulu Koichi Ito presented Mr. Matsumoto with the Imperial Decoration last month. Mr. Matsumoto was recognized for his involvement in the Japanese and Japanese American community and U.S.-Japan relations, including his fundraising efforts to aid those affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Island Holdings Inc., where Mr. Matsumoto is president and chairman, was a key sponsor in the 2017 Japan-Hawaii Economic Summit, which accelerated regional and international exchange with prefectures in Japan that have interests in and connections to Hawaii.
Council Leader Duane Kurisu, Chairman and CEO of the aio Group, is the driving force behind Kahauiki Village, a community of affordable housing units in Hawaii. The first families moved in last week.
Japan played a role in making this possible: the prefabricated, modular homes come from Tohoku, and previously housed those who were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Earlier this month, Japanese dignitaries paid a visit, praising the initiative.
Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Iwao Horii (left) was among the Japanese dignitaries who visited the community. Mr. Kurisu is third from right.
Inspired by the plantation community culture, Kahauiki Village provides family-friendly services like child care and preschool facilities, and keeps utility costs low through a microgrid that stores solar energy in batteries. It is meant to provide long-term housing and opportunities for homeless families in transitional housing. (Read more about Mr. Kurisu's vision here (Hawaii Home + Remodeling is published by aio.)) When completed, the community will include 153 homes, with rents about 50% below the market rate, and nearby employers will provide jobs within walking distance.
This large-scale public-private partnership is the result of collaboration among government entities (including the State of Hawaii, the City & County of Honolulu, the U.S. Navy and the Hawaii Army National Guard) and dozens of companies, including several led by or affiliated with USJC members, such as aio, iQ 360, Hawaiian Electric Company, HPM Building Supply and Y. Hata & Co., Ltd.
The community has received extensive media coverage, including Hawaii News Now, Honolulu Magazine, and KITV. Congratulations to Mr. Kurisu and everyone involved in the project!
Congratulations to Member of the USJC Board of Councilors John Onoda, who will receive the 2018 Larry Foster Award from Pennsylvania State University's Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication! Mr. Onoda is recognized for his distinguished career in communications, and for being an ethical leader in the corporate communications field. See this page for more details.