WASHINGTON — The government of Japan announced Nov. 6 that Shiro Floyd Mori, former national executive director and former national president of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), will receive the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, in recognition of his significant contributions to the improvement of the status of Japanese Americans, strengthening of economic relations between Japan and the U.S., and the promotion of Japanese culture in the United States.
Mori, 73, will be recognized at a reception to be held in Washington, D.C. He is one of 46 foreign recipients of the 2012 Fall Imperial Decorations.
Mori, who was recently appointed as the interim CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute of Congressional Studies (APAICS), retired as JACL national executive director this past summer. He is presently on the boards of APIAVote and the Independent Voters Project and has served on several other public and private boards.
During his lifetime of service, much of his work has been with the people of Japan. Most recently, he spearheaded a joint JACL/Direct Relief International effort to provide emergency relief after the March 2011 disaster in Japan. The effort raised over $6.5 million, served thousands of displaced Japanese and supported NGOs (non-governmental organizations) directly giving support to the victims of the disaster.
He has been directly involved in the forming of sister-city relationships between the U.S. and Japan as well as strengthening business relationships between the two nations.
“This award is very humbling and much appreciated,” said Mori. “While I am a very proud American, I also have a great deal of pride in the country of my parents, who taught me the great values they brought with them when they came to this country in the early 1900s. I have always felt a high level of obligation to uphold those values and help my country to have strong human ties to the country of my heritage. I especially want to thank Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki for his great contribution to the strengthening of the Japanese American role in the U.S.-Japan relationship.”
Mori was born in Murray, Utah, just south of Salt Lake City, in 1939. His parents were immigrants from Kagoshima in southern Japan. The family moved to Sandy, Utah, when he was still very young. Mori graduated from Jordan High School in Sandy in 1957. He then joined the U.S. Army Reserves and spent six months on active duty at Fort Ord in California. He served out his time in the Army Reserves and received an honorable discharge.
Mori received a bachelor’s degree with a dual major in economics and Asian studies in 1964 from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and went on to earn a master’s degree in 1965 with a major in economics and a minor in political science. He later attended fellowship programs at Stanford University and UCLA.
While living in the San Francisco Bay Area, he was an economics instructor at Chabot College in Hayward from 1965 to 1975 and was elected to the Pleasanton City Council in 1972 for a four-year term. He then served as mayor pro tempore and as mayor.
In March 1975, Mori was elected to the California State Assembly in a special election. He served for six years as one of the first two Japanese Americans members of the Assembly along with Paul Bannai from Gardena.
During the height of Japanese economic expansion during the 1970s, Mori served one year as director of the Office of International Trade in California. He helped to form the California Japanese Businessman Advisory Council for then-Gov. Jerry Brown. During the medfly crisis, he served as a liaison between the State of California and the Japanese consulates.
Mori was an international business consultant and president of Mori-Silva International for 20 years after moving to Utah in 1983. He organized trade missions to Japan for the State of California and the governor of Utah as well as Japanese media tours of critical California and Utah industrial sectors. He has been a consultant in government relations and served as Utah’s trade representative to Japan.
He made significant contribution to the improvement of the status of Japanese Americans as a leader of the JACL, the oldest and largest Asian American civil and human rights organization in the nation, established in 1929 by Nisei leaders. Mori was on the board of the Mount Olympus JACL chapter for over 20 years and was chapter president for four years. He also served as a national vice president of JACL and as national president from 2000 to 2004.
In 2005, Mori became the director of public policy for JACL in its Washington, D.C. office. He was JACL’s interim national executive director in late 2006, after which he was appointed as national executive director.
Also, he organized and established the first Nihon Matsuri (Japan Festival) in Salt Lake City in 2004.
He lives with his wife Irene in Arlington, Va. They have five children and 11 grandchildren.