On Nov. 2, the government of Japan announced the recipients of its autumn 2013 Decorations from the jurisdiction of the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles: Ray Thomas Decker, chairman emeritus of the Japan America Society of Southern California, and Tatsushi Nakamura, former president of the Japanese Prefectural Association of Southern California.
The conferral ceremony for Decker will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 10, from 3 p.m. in Los Angeles. Nakamura will receive his decoration on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at 2 p.m. in Los Angeles.
Ray Thomas Decker
Decker will be awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon for contributing to the promotion of the understanding of Japan in Southern California.
Born in 1937, Decker graduated with a B.A. in economics and history from Stanford University in 1958. After serving in the Navy, he began his professional career in the financial industry, and went on to found Wells Fargo Leasing Corporation and served as its president and chief executive officer.
In 1977, he was promoted to executive vice president and director of Wells Fargo Bank’s Corporate Banking Group. He joined Bank of America and continued serving Japanese businesses and helped them to establish a foothold in West Coast until he retired in 1999 as the executive vice president and senior corporate officer in Southern California.
Aside from his professional success, Decker has been actively involved in community services, serving numerous leadership positions in organizations such as Boy Scouts of America, Japanese American National Museum, and Japan America Society of Southern California (JASSC). Serving as an active member of the Board of Directors for 17 years and chairman for two years, he worked tirelessly for the growth of the organization and the promotion of the Japan-U.S. relations.
He was especially successful in bringing numerous high-profile speakers and lecturers to JASSC events, which elevated the presence of JASSC as a leading Japan-focused organization in Southern California; for example, he played an instrumental role in inviting then-Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi to Los Angeles.
Even after retiring from these key roles, Decker continued providing opportunities for leaders from Japan and the U.S. to build personal connections, which led to the enhancement of the Japan-U.S. bilateral relations.
Nakamura will be awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays for his contributions to the promotion of Japanese culture and the development of the Japanese American community in Southern California.
Nakamura was born in Kagoshima City in 1935. After he graduated high school, he left for the U.S. to study at Pasadena City College. He later transferred to Pasadena Nazarene University and received a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He then worked at a local branch of Sumitomo Bank. In 1966 he was given the ownership of a hotel from his acquaintance from Kagoshima, and he managed the hotel business for 21 years. Currently he runs a property management business.
Nakamura has been involved in various organizations of the Japanese American community, such as the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California (JCCSC) and Taisho Club, to convey his gratitude to the local community that supported him in times of difficulty. In the JCCSC, he served as president and assisted in the development of local Japanese American companies.
As president of the Japanese Prefectural Association of Southern California, he promoted Japanese language education as well as attracted the younger generation to join the association. He also played a major role in the fundraising effort to support victims of the 2004 Mid-Niigata Prefecture Earthquake that occurred a year before he was installed as president.
The Japanese American Treaty Centennial Scholarship Fund, where he has been a board member for 33 years, has granted scholarships of over #$730,000 in total to Japanese American students. In addition, he has contributed to Japan-U.S relations by promoting Japanese culture as honorary advisor of Nanka Kado Kyojyukai and chairman of Beikoku Shodo Kenkyukai, and was awarded the Commendation of the Consul General of Japan in April 2013.