By GWEN MURANAKA
RAFU ENGLISH EDITOR IN CHIEF
“Banzai!” shouted Terry Handa, president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California (JCCSC), leading a cheer for the continued success of the Japanese American community, during the organization’s annual New Year’s party held on Sunday in Alhambra.
“I’m very proud of JCCSC and its role in the community. Of course I see challenges ahead, but I like to think of the exciting future potential of this organization and its mission,” said Handa. “We are tucking up our sleeves and already starting our job to support and serve the Nikkei community. We want to do more and will keep extending outreach efforts to English- speaking and Japanese-speaking communities.”
JCCSC sponsors an annual year-end charity drive for Keiro Senior Healthcare and also the Oshogatsu celebrations held in Weller Court and Japanese Village Plaza. The management and tenants of Japanese Village Plaza were recognized with the Community Organization Recognition for their efforts to revitalize Little Tokyo.
Bob Iannessa, JVP property manager, accepted the award on behalf of the plaza’s owners, American Commercial Equities. ACE purchased the plaza in 2007 and recently finished a renovation of the property, including the landmark Yagura Firetower.
“The company’s vision for Japanese Village Plaza was to keep its cultural integrity intact at all costs and to restore and revitalize the village to its original prominence in ’79 and ’80 when it was first built,” said Iannessa.
“I am constantly asked, ‘Is this property a long-term hold for your company?’ And the answer is and always will be, ‘Absolutely.’ ”
The Nikkei Spirit Award was given to Shigeko Kajiya, a community leader active in Nisei Week and the Little Tokyo Business Association, and Minoru Osada, executive director of Asahi Gakuen and a former president and CEO of Pentel of America, Ltd.
JCCSC 2011 officers are: Terry Handa, president; Masao Okamoto, Kitty Sankey and Haruo Takehana, senior vice presidents; Ichiro Yamazaki, Midori Matsushima, Hiroshi Yamauchi, Kazutaka Kishita, Shigeo Nakayama, Eiroku Yoh, Noriko Oakland and Kunio Shiba, vice presidents; Yoshio Aoki, secretary; Tetsuo Takahashi, assistant secretary; Yoshihara Hamano and Howard Miyoshi, treasurers; and auditors Bert Inouye and Grace Shiba.