The Japanese government on Monday announced the recipients of its Fall 2014 Decorations. From the jurisdiction of the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles, the following four distinguished persons will be awarded.
• Prof. Hiroo Kanamori, Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Star.
Kanamori was born in 1936 in Tokyo and after graduating from the Faculty of Science, University of Tokyo in 1959, obtained his Ph.D. in science for his research in geophysics in 1964 while working as a research associate at the same faculty. Soon after, he traveled to the U.S., continuing his research as a research fellow at the California Institute of Technology and later, as visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1970, he became director of the Earthquake Research Institute at the University of Tokyo, followed by a position as a professor at the California Institute of Technology two years later.
In 1990, he was appointed director of the Seismological Laboratory at Cal Tech, establishing his authority in the fields of seismology and geophysics. His research is highly regarded in the U.S., where he served for a year as chairman of the Seismological Society of America in 1985.
His research on clarifying the source process of massive earthquakes in order to quantify the physical process of the epicenter based on the seismic record was a breakthrough in the study of seismology. These research results have contributed to the development of systems to help reduce seismic disaster and also contributed to the spread of earthquake early warning and earthquake alarm systems in Japan.
Kanamori currently serves as emeritus professor at Cal Tech, working for disaster prevention and mitigation as well as for the spread of the systems worldwide.
He has received numerous awards, including the Arthur L. Day Prize and Lectureship (1993), the Asahi Prize (1994), the Japan Academy Prize (2004), the Kyoto Prize (2007), and the Person of Cultural Merit Award (2006).
• Toshio Handa, Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays.
Handa was born on Sept. 27, 1942 in Tokyo. After graduating from the School of Commerce at Keio University in 1965, he began his career at ITOCHU Corporation, eventually moving to Pasadena as the Aircraft Department manager for ITOCHU Corporation Los Angeles. Despite returning once to Japan, he came back to the U.S. in 1981 with his family and ran his private trading company until his retirement in 2011.
Once his company became successful, Handa started participating in various Japanese American organizations and actively contributing to the community. Due to the fact that most Japanese American organizational events were being held in the South Bay area, he organized the first Pasadena Seminar in 2003, providing those of Japanese descent in the northeastern region of Los Angeles with a social outlet and a valuable opportunity to hear lectures on current affairs for over 10 years.
With his Japanese pride and love for Japan, Handa has spent many years enlightening the community and disseminating Japanese culture in the Greater Los Angeles area.
After serving in many key posts of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California, Handa served as president for three years, hosting various events leading to the development of Little Tokyo and the promotion of friendly relations with the general public. He has also been actively involved with the serious financial issues the organization faces.
During his third year as president, the Great East Japan Earthquake struck. Taking the initiative, Handa gathered the Japanese American community and through his efforts was able to raise a total of $560,000 in donations, which was all donated to the disaster area through UNICEF. He has also continued his annual visits to the disaster area, nurturing his relations with local people.
Handa began his term as president of the Japanese Community Pioneer Center in 2014, also after serving other key posts, and has provided many welfare services to elderly Japanese Americans, such as hosting seminars and providing taxi coupons.
Handa has helped provide operational support for the Nikkei Helpline, which has become the heart and soul of the Japanese people here. The Nikkei Helpline in Los Angeles is the sole provider of support in Japanese in North America. He has donated all profits from the Pasadena Seminar and has hosted events such as benefit concerts in order to raise funds.
Handa has contributed to a wide variety of organizations, such as the Chado Urasenke Tankokai Orange County Association, Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, Little Tokyo Community Council, Japanese Prefectural Association of Southern California, Beikoku Shodo Kenkyukai, L.A. Tokyo-kai, Taisho Club, and Japan America Society of Southern California, making his activities an integral part of the community. As a reflection of his tremendous contributions to the community, Handa received the Commendation of the Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles in 2014.
• Jan Perry, Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays.
Perry’s strong commitment to serving the community and people of Los Angeles was clearly demonstrated as both a community volunteer and as an elected official. After graduating cum laude with a major in journalism at the University of Southern California, Perry went on to earn her MPA at USC in 1981. She worked as a paralegal for 10 years and subsequently became involved in Los Angeles city government, engaging in legislative work for three City Council members before being elected to the City Council in 2001.
She represented the 9th Council District, which included Downtown Los Angeles and South Los Angeles. Her district also included Little Tokyo, where she served the Japanese American community and helped strengthen its voice in city government. Her thorough understanding of the community, its history, heritage and concerns enabled her to strongly advocate for services benefiting constituents. She also fought to help preserve and promote Japanese culture and Japanese American history in Los Angeles.
As a city councilmember, Perry worked tirelessly to bring several redevelopment and revitalization projects to downtown and Little Tokyo. She worked in close collaboration with organizations in Little Tokyo to establish and prioritize redevelopment for the community. She brought the Regional Connector project to Little Tokyo, and supported development plans for Budokan, a proposed multi-use facility for sports and community activities.
Under her leadership, public safety, infrastructure and the landscape in Little Tokyo were significantly improved. Perry actively supported the annual Nisei Week Festival, enhancing its role as a bridge between Japanese American pioneers and the younger generations. She served as the grand marshal of the Nisei Week Parade in 2013, a reflection of her contribution to its continuing success.
As a board member of the Go For Broke National Education Center, Perry was a strong advocate for Japanese American veterans, supporting the construction and maintenance of the Go For Broke Monument. She was also instrumental in gaining the full support of the City of Los Angeles for the development of the Japanese American National Museum.
After the Great East Japan earthquake, Perry cited inspiration from resilience shown by the people of Japan and their willingness to help each other. She organized a fundraising event with both city and American Red Cross volunteers for the victims, calling on the entire city to show support for Japan.
Perry actively promoted the sister-city exchange between Los Angeles and Nagoya. She warmly welcomed delegations from Nagoya and participated in a mission in 2009 to exchange ideas and promote a dialogue on economic and urban development policies between the two cities.
• Yukio Tatsumi,Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays.
Tatsumi was born in August 1920 in Terminal Island, a small enclave in Southern California populated by immigrant Japanese fishermen. He attended up to junior high school in Terminal Island and then moved to Wakayama Prefecture for high school, soon moving back to Terminal Island and graduating from San Pedro High School in 1940.
Along with others of Japanese ancestry, Tatsumi was interned at the Manzanar War Relocation Center during World War II. After the war, he settled his family in Los Angeles and began his profession as a commercial fisherman. In 1956, he started the Oriental Food Market, a grocery store specializing in Japanese and Aian goods for the local community in Long Beach and operated it with his wife until 1982. Subsequently, he went to work for a Japanese company, the California Rice Company, as a sales advisor, until his retirement.
In 1971, Tatsumi and his friends created the Terminal Islanders Organization in order to memorialize the Japanese fishing village that was their home and preserve its history and legacy for future generations. He was elected vice president and later served as president from 1984 to 2011. The organization sought to preserve the history and spirit of the community of Terminal Island and educate society about the history and role of Japanese Americans in Southern California.
In 2002, the Terminal Islanders created the Terminal Island Memorial Monument and in 2004, the achievements of the Terminal Islanders were recognized with a commendation from the Foreign Ministry of Japan.
Tatsumi is also a skilled and well-established shodo calligrapher and has promoted the art of Japanese calligraphy in the U.S. through his participation in the Beikoku Shodo Kenkyukai. In addition, he has been active with the Nanka Wakayama Kenjiinkai and in numerous Japanese American organizations.
In 2013, Tatsumi received the Commendation of the Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles for his work in promoting mutual understanding and friendship between the U.S. and Japan.
Kanamori and Handa will attend the conferment ceremony to be held in Tokyo on Nov. 13. The conferment ceremonies for Perry and Tatsumi will be held in Los Angeles on Nov. 19 and Nov. 26, respectively.