3 Southern Californians to Be Decorated by Japanese Government

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The government of Japan announced the recipients of its Fall 2012 Decorations on Saturday. Three people in the jurisdiction of the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles will be awarded.

Allan James Acosta, Kazuye Suyeishi, Akemi Kikumura Yano

Allan James Acosta, 88, of Seal Beach will receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, for contributing to the development of liquid rocket technology in Japan and the promotion of research exchange between the U.S. and Japan. He is professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at the California Institute of Technology and a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Akemi Kikumura Yano, 68, of Sherman Oaks will receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, for contributing to the development of Japanese American studies and promoting understanding toward Japanese Americans in the U.S. and Nikkei in the Americas. She is former CEO of the Japanese American National Museum and a visiting scholar at the UCLA Asian American Studies Center.

Kazuye Suyeishi, 85, of Torrance will receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, for contributing to the promotion of understanding of the anti-nuclear position and the advancement of the welfare of atomic bomb survivors in the U.S. She is president of the American Society of Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors and held the title of Special Communicator for a World Without Nuclear Weapons.

Conferment ceremonies will be held at Consul General Jun Niimi’s official residence later this month.

Allan James Acosta

Dr. Acosta was born in Anaheim in 1924 and grew up in the Los Angeles area. He received his undergraduate and graduate education at Caltech (BS in 1945, MS in 1949, Ph.D. in 1952). He joined the Hydrodynamics Research Laboratory at Caltech as a research assistant and later became a member of the faculty. After serving as an assistant professor, associate professor, and professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, he was appointed executive officer for mechanical engineering. In 1993, he was awarded the status of Hayman Professor Emeritus.

During his research years at Caltech, he welcomed many Japanese scientists and engineers who studied with and under him. He fostered many talented Japanese researchers and engineers who later became Japan’s leading scientists in the field of rocket engine technology, especially the development of turbo pump.

His contribution to Japan’s advancement of liquid rocket engine technology is tremendous; he mentored many researchers from Japanese universities, the former National Aerospace Laboratory of Japan, and the former National Space Development Agency of Japan. Acosta’s research on cavitation played a critical role in the development of the turbo pump and inducer, the core mechanism of Japan’s liquid rocket engine technology.

Acosta’s work as an advisor to the JSME International Journal, the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers (JSME)’s English publication, promoted the internationalization of JSME. He participated in academic conferences in Japan and helped organize a seminar co-hosted by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the U.S. National Science Foundation. Recognizing his years of contribution to the development of Japan’s mechanical engineering technology, JSME awarded him honorary membership in 2000.

Akemi Kikumura Yano

Dr. Kikumura Yano was born in a concentration camp in Rohwer, Ark. during World War II. After the war, her family remained in Arkansas to farm then relocated to Lodi, Calif., where her grandfather had settled in 1900. In the late 1950s, her family moved to Los Angeles, where her interest in the performing arts began.

While performing in productions such as “Flower Drum Song” and “Farewell to Manzanar,” her interest in Asian American history and her own roots as a Nikkei (person of Japanese ancestry) grew stronger.

She pursued research in ethnic studies at UCLA, receiving a Ph.D. in anthropology (1979), has since taught at USC and UCLA, and is currently a visiting scholar at UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center. She has conducted fieldwork in Nikkei communities throughout the Americas and has promoted a greater understanding of Japanese immigrant communities worldwide through her numerous publications and production of books, exhibitions, articles, short stories and plays.

Starting in 1987, Kikumura Yano held various positions at JANM, beginning as its first curator and contributing to the national and international recognition of the museum’s excellence. In 2008 she was appointed president and CEO of JANM, overseeing its fundraising, management, and program development to increase the public’s knowledge and understanding of the Japanese American experience as an integral part of American history.

A key initiative developed under her leadership was the International Nikkei Research Project, designed to deepen and disseminate the knowledge about Japanese descendants in North and South America. She co-edited the award-winning book “New Worlds, New Lives; Globalization and People of Japanese Descent in the Americas and from Latin America in Japan,” with Lane Hirabayashi and James Hirabayashi, and launched the world’s largest online database of Japanese immigrants and their descendants, “Discover Nikkei.”

In 2010, in recognition of the accomplishments  of Kikumura Yano and her predecessors, JANM received the National Medal at the White House from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the nation’s highest honor bestowed upon libraries and museums.

Kazuye Suyeishi

Suyeishi was born in Pasadena. At the age of 9 months, she was taken to Japan, where her parents were from. She completed her compulsory education in her parents’ hometown of Hiroshima, and in March 1944, she graduated from Hiroshima First Girls’ High School, and a year later, from a home economics school. She then started working in April 1945 as a member of women’s volunteer corps at Mitsubishi Heavy Industry.

It was there on Aug. 6, 1945 when she was exposed to radiation from the atomic bomb dropped on the city, and fractured her hipbones where she was pinned under toppled buildings. She later came back to her birthplace by way of Hawaii. Hoping to become a dressmaker, she studied dressmaking design at Pasadena City College.

Since the inception of Committee of Atomic Bomb Survivors in October 1971, she was an active member, and later was nominated as vice president. Through the organization, she has assisted survivors abroad in obtaining or filling out application forms for Atomic Bomb Survivor’s Certificates at overseas consulates or embassies, has facilitated medical examinations for survivors residing in the U.S., and has promoted awareness among students in the Los Angeles areas of the danger of the nuclear weapons through “peace lectures” conducted both in English and Japanese.

In September 1992, a new, independent organization called American Society of Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors was established, with Suyeishi as vice president.  She was promoted to president of the organization in 2003, but her active involvement in offering the “peace lecture” continued.

Commissioned and designated as “Special Communicator for a World without Nuclear Weapons” by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Suyeishi showed, in November 2010 and again in October 2011, her dedication to cooperating with the government to teach children about the importance of nuclear disarmament and the horrors of nuclear war. She not only gave special lectures to 200 sixth-grade students in all four schools of Asahi Gakuen in Los Angeles, but also gave testimony as an atomic bomb survivor during U.N. Disarmament Week.

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