Japanese Americans & Japan: Legacies – Interview with Colbert Matsumoto

The “Japanese Americans & Japan: Legacies” series continued with an interview of Colbert Matsumoto, Chairman of Island Holdings, Inc. During the interview, Mr. Matsumoto shared stories about his childhood, career and experiences as a Japanese American. 

Mr. Matsumoto has decades of experience in law and has been very active in business and civic affairs. Among his accomplishments is leading a nine million dollar campaign to save the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii from foreclosure in 2002. Mr. Matsumoto has served in leadership capacities for nonprofits such as Densho; the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii; the Japanese American Citizens League; the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association; Urasenke Foundation of Hawaii; and Daihonzan Chozen-ji/International Zen Dojo. A founding director of the U.S.-Japan Council, Mr. Matsumoto currently serves on the USJC Legacy Council and has been an enthusiastic supporter of USJC’s Emerging Leaders Program since its inception in 2010.

Mr. Matsumoto described growing up in a Hawaii plantation community, noting the importance of his aikidoteacher in his life. After law school, due to his continued interest in martial arts, he went to a monastery and lived in a dojo. This experience made him understand how he “should be looking at things differently than how people would normally.”

Mr. Matsumoto later described his diverse array of experiences practicing law and emphasized the importance of community. He said, “I encourage young people to get involved. Don’t just focus on your own career and your profession… Make sure you’re engaged in the community because… you broaden your network, you broaden your experience, and it has a way of coming back.”

Mr. Matsumoto also spoke fondly of USJC Founding President, the late Irene Hirano Inouye, and his experience as part of the Japanese American Leadership Delegation (JALD) in 2010.

The interview with Mr. Matsumoto 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. Click here to access the full series of interviews

-Kazuma Parkinson
USJC Intern