Japanese Americans and Japan: Legacies – Interview with Allen Okamoto

The “Japanese Americans & Japan: Legacies” series continued with an interview of Allen Okamoto, Owner and Broker at T. Okamoto & Co. During the interview, Mr. Okamoto shared stories about his childhood, career, and experiences as a Japanese American. 

Mr. Okamoto is a successful realtor who has led various organizations and events over several decades. In addition to his work at T. Okamoto & Co., he is the founder of the Asian American Real Estate Association of America (AREAA). He has also supported the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival and San Francisco-Osaka Sister City Association. Mr. Okamoto is a recipient of the Government of Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun award and is a member of the USJC Legacy Council.

Mr. Okamoto discussed his family’s WWII experiences and the inspiration he takes from his parents. He detailed his career in real estate, noting occasions where he faced discrimination. Mr. Okamoto also touched upon his leadership with AREAA and Japanese American related programming. When asked about the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, he remarked, “The Cherry Blossom Festival is very important because… we try to maintain as much culture – the Japanese culture and the Japanese American culture – as possible.”

When asked about tips he shares with young people, Mr. Okamoto said, “I try to lead by example as opposed to lecture… My father instilled upon me that respect and trust and honesty are the most important things because without that, you don’t have a career, you don’t have a social life. So, I try to emulate my father, and hopefully it rubs off on the people that I work with.” 

Mr. Okamoto explained how he got involved with USJC, noting his prior relationship with USJC Founding President, the late Irene Hirano Inouye. When describing Irene, he said, “I was totally amazed at what an incredible person she was. She was smart, intelligent, driven, articulate.” Mr. Okamoto spoke with optimism about USJC’s future, explaining that “the U.S.-Japan relationship has to be nurtured, and I think that the U.S.-Japan Council is one of those organizations that will further the cause of bettering the relationship between the United States and Japan.”

The interview with Mr. Okamoto is available to watch online here.

The Legacy series is produced and moderated by Council Leaders Dianne Fukami (JALD ’09) and Debra Nakatomi (JALD ’09), who together co-produced a TV documentary “An American Story: Norman Mineta and His Legacy,” on the life and career of Secretary Norman Y. Mineta (Vice Chair of the USJC Board of Councilors). This series is brought to you through a mix of live webinars and privately recorded sessions released on YouTube.

-Kazuma Parkinson
USJC Intern