SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Japantown Foundation issued the following statement on Sept. 8:
“We mourn the loss of Bob Hamaguchi, our friend and board member, who passed away on Sept. 4 surrounded by his loving family.
“As executive director of Japantown Task Force, Inc., Bob was a critical leader in Japantown, in San Francisco, and in the Japanese American community.
“Our deepest thanks to you, Bob, for your service and contributions to preserving and uplifting Japantown. You will be sorely missed, but your spirit will always live on in Japantown and in our hearts.”
Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement: “San Francisco is fortunate to have a beautiful Japantown community that is economically thriving and culturally rich, and we owe so much of that vibrancy to the tireless efforts of Bob Hamaguchi.
“As the visionary executive director of the Japantown Task Force, Bob steered the planning of the community in a way that respected its past and ensured its future. His advocacy was critical to Japantown securing a Community Benefits District designation, a decade-long effort that will fund critical environmental and economic programs in the neighborhood.
“There are only three Japantowns left in this country, and due to Bob’s leadership, we know there will always be one in San Francisco.
“Bob was a passionate, effective and dedicated leader and it was always a joy to work alongside him. He will be dearly missed.”
Emily Murase, a member of the San Francisco Board of Education and executive director of the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, said, “So sad to hear the news that our community has lost Elizabeth Kirton, executive director of the Asian Women’s Shelter, whose warmth and compassion was unequalled. Also lost Bob Hamaguchi, executive director of the Japantown Task Force, yesterday. A tireless advocate for the future of Japantown, Bob left an indelible mark on the community. Terrible losses.”
In this video, Hamaguchi, who was recently honored by the National Japanese American Historical Society, talks about the importance of preserving San Francisco Japantown.