Northern California Recipients of 2011 Autumn Conferment of Decoration

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco has announced the following recipients of the 2011 Autumn Conferment of Decoration:

Hatsuro Aizawa

* Hatsuro Aizawa of San Francisco, former board member, Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California; former commissioner, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays for contributing to the friendship between Japan and the United States, and to Japanese companies’ growth in American markets.

Since the San Francisco-Osaka Sister City Association’s founding in 1964, Aizawa has served on the board, facilitating past visits by the mayor of San Francisco to Osaka and joining the association’s Executive Committee in welcoming the mayor of Osaka to San Francisco.  He has supported grassroots exchange between San Francisco and Osaka and has visited Osaka many times, including with a past mayoral delegation, as part of efforts to strengthen relations between the sister cities

Aizawa served on the board of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California from 1961-2001 was involved in many aspects of the organization, including its newsletters and annual gala. He has also helped Japanese companies enter American and Northern Californian markets, aiding their development with his abilities in Japanese.

Aizawa was appointed as a commissioner at the Asian Art Museum in 1993 by then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein and served for 16 years.  He has worked to introduce Japanese art in the Bay Area, contributing to the organization of Japan-themed exhibitions and acquisitions of Japanese art for the museum, which has the largest Asian art collection on the West Coast.

Aizawa has also contributed to interest in Japanese culture through his service on the boards of various Japan-affiliated organizations in San Francisco’s Japantown.

Jimi Yamaichi

* Jimi Yamaichi of San Jose, founder, Japanese American Museum of San Jose; program director, San Jose-Okayama Sister City Organization. Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays for contributing to improvement of the welfare of Japanese nationals in Northern California and promoting understanding about Japan.

Yamaichi started the Nikkei Matsuri, the first Japanese-themed festival in the South Bay, in 1978 and led the festival to success as chairman for 10 years. He also founded the Japanese American Museum of San Jose in 1985 to preserve Japanese culture and Japanese American history. In addition, he has been involved for many years with the San Jose Obon festival, which is the largest Obon festival in Northern California and which enjoys a thousand dance participants each year.

Yamaichi has been an important figure in the San Jose-Okayama Sister City Organization since its founding in 1982, overseeing initiatives and management as program coordinator.  He has welcomed delegates and arranged homestays for visitors from Okayama.

Yamaichi has organized an invitational sumo tournament in California as well as basketball exchange between local students and the Shoin Higashi Women’s College.

Yamaichi has contributed to the welfare of Japanese citizens living in the U.S., most notably through his support of Yu-Ai Kai, an organization supporting seniors from the Issei (first-generation Japanese immigrant) community.  He was involved extensively in Yu-Ai Kai’s development, from the pre-founding planning, to construction plans and serving on the board of directors.

As a board member, he also helped oversee the planning, construction, and management of Fuji Tower, a housing facility for Nikkei seniors. Yamaichi has also been involved in youth development initiatives through his work in the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin.

The consulate also announced a recipient of the 2011 Foreign Minister’s Commendation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

* Dr. Hisashi Kajikuri, a Monterey physician, received the commendation for contributing to improvement of the social welfare of Japanese, friendly relations between Japan and the United States, and promotion of the understanding of Japan.

The conferment ceremonies were held at the official residence of Consul General Hiroshi Inomata.

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