Then and Now

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Athletes from the 1932 Japanese Olympic team are hosted at a farewelll gathering by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Japanese Consul and Southern California Japanese Association in Los Angeles.

Athletes from the 1932 Japanese Olympic team are hosted at a farewelll gathering by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Japanese Consul and Southern California Japanese Association in Los Angeles.

As the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California (JCCSC) celebrates its 60th anniversary on Saturday, it will reflect on a history that has included a number of name changes, but the same mission to serve the Japanese American community.

The luncheon will be held on Saturday, at the Kyoto Grand Hotel from 11 a.m., businesses which have been open at least 60 years will be honored by the JCCSC. JCCSC was officially established in 1949 when the Japanese American Association of Los Angeles (Rafu Nihonjin Kyogikai) and Los Angeles Business Asso­ciation merged, but also dates back to the beginnings of the JA community.

Following the immigration move in Hawaii in 1860s, Nikkei immigration started to flow into mainland in 1880s headed by people from such Japanese prefectures as Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Miyagi and Mie.

Doho” (fellow countrymen) was the term used back then to refer to each other among the Nikkei immigrants. They felt the need to support “doho” in every aspects of life, and thus Japanese Association of Los Angeles (Rafu Nihonjin Kyogikai) was established in 1905. JCCSC claims the Japanese Association as its predecessor.

 GWEN MURANAKA/Rafu Shimpo From right, Tom Kamei, Emi Komano, Tatsushi Nakamura, Terry Handa, Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Mike Okamoto and Carl Kawata of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California. (GWEN MURANAKA/Rafu Shimpo)

From right, Tom Kamei, Emi Komano, Tatsushi Nakamura, Terry Handa, Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Mike Okamoto and Carl Kawata of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California. (GWEN MURANAKA/Rafu Shimpo)

In 1955, the chamber’s name was changed to Japanese American Chamber of Commerce of Southern California. In the 1980, as Japan’s economic influence grew and Los Angeles became home to many shin-Issei, the chamber changed back to its current name.

President Toshio “Terry” Handa, said the mission of the chamber is to support the Japanese American community. In recent years, the chamber has also reached out to the broader Asian American community and serves on the executive committee of the Asian American Chamber of Commerce.

“I think the substance of the organization is JA chamber of commerce,” Handa said. “We are shin-Issei, but we live here as Japanese Americans.”

Today the chamber activities include the year-end fundraiser for Keiro Senior Healthcare, sponsoring the Oshogatsu festivities in Little Tokyo, Nisei Week, hosting a luncheon for Jokun (imperial order) recipients, and the Ashinaga student exchange program, which hosts students from Japan who have lost one or more parents.

The keynote speaker on Saturday will be Rep. Judy Chu, and for entertainment, the LA Glee Club members will perform. There will be a silent auction before the 11 a.m. opening.

Cost: $75 per person. For more information and to register please contact the JCCSC office, (213) 626-3067.

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