Consul General Harry Horinouchi conferred upon Yasuo Kumoda, chairman of Super Frec USA Inc., the Commendation of the Consul General on Nov. 17 in Los Angeles.
Kumoda was born in Karafuto in 1941. After graduating from the Law Faculty at Aoyama University in Tokyo, he began his career at Morinaga Milk Industry Co. Ltd. in 1966. He traveled to the U.S. and in 1985 became the president of Morinaga Nutritional Foods Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Morinaga Milk, specializing in tofu sales.
Until his retirement in 2005, Kumoda worked diligently to make tofu a mainstream food item in America. Before the popularization of Japanese food in America, soybeans were considered only as livestock feed. Kumoda spent over 20 years popularizing tofu before its wide acceptance as a healthy food product, earning the nickname “Mr. Tofu.” With his help, Japanese food was able to win the hearts of the American public and become as popular as it is today.
He currently serves as a visiting professor at Chukyo University, helping the younger generation of Japan to be better prepared to achieve success overseas. In addition, he visits various cities around Japan hosted by Jiji Press Japan, providing invaluable assistance to small and medium-sized businesses expanding internationally.
In 2006, Kumoda became the chairman of Super Frec USA Inc., proposing new product ideas on how to make shirataki the next popular healthy food item after tofu.
Beginning in 2008, he also became the board chair of the Japanese Food Culture Association, which is dedicated to supporting Japanese restaurants and promoting the import and export of agricultural and fisheries products of Japan. He oversees several Japanese wholesale distributors and food manufacturers in addition to hosting Japanese food/culture events with over 3,000 attendees, contributing greatly to the creation of a “Japan brand.”
In June of the same year, Kumoda was recognized for his contributions to the promotion of the Japanese food culture with an award from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The conferment ceremony, held at the consul general’s official residence, was attended by approximately 20 guests, including Kumoda’s wife and friends. Horinouchi’s remarks provided an overview of Kumoda’s struggles in mainstreaming tofu in America and his contributions to the popularization of Japanese food in Southern California, for which the consul general extended his sincerest appreciation.
After the conferment of the certificate, Kumoda expressed his gratitude to all those who had supported him over the years and his intent to continue the further popularization of Japanese food in the belief that it would help lead to world peace.
Congratulatory remarks were given by Noritoshi Kanai, chairman of Mutual Trading Co., and Yoshinobu Fukushima, chairman of the Board of Directors of Asahi Gakuen, both of whom expressed their gratitude to Kumoda for his contributions to the dissemination of Japanese food and his efforts in supporting the younger generation.
The toast was given by Toshio Handa, president of the Japanese Community Pioneer Center, ending the approximately 40-minute ceremony. A reception followed.