JCCSC Honors Jokun Awardees

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Community leaders celebrated at gathering in Montebello.

George Mori leads a toast to the Jokun award recipients.

Four recent recipients of Japan’s Order of the Rising Sun were acknowledged for their achievements in international relations and promotion of Japanese culture on June 10 during the Jokun recognition luncheon presented by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California (JCCSC) at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello.

Businessman Ernest Doizaki, educator Kitty Sankey, sister cities proponent Thelma Press of San Bernardino, and diplomacy expert Professor Ellis Krauss of San Diego were the honorees.

Consul General of Japan Akira Chiba commented that the large number of local recipients reflects “the continuous, strong presence of the Japanese community here in Southern California and the friendship that it brings to us.”

The award is traditionally given to those who have distinguished themselves through achievements in international relations, promotion of Japanese culture, advancements in their fields, development in welfare, and/or preservation of the environment.

Los Angeles-born Doizaki is chief executive officer of the American Fish Company and the Kansas Marine Company, which supplies food products to cruise lines. He follows in the footsteps of his father, the late George Doizaki, who was decorated by the Japanese government in 1982. Ernest Doizaki has been a guiding force behind the Japanese American National Museum and received the Spirit of Life Award from the City of Hope.

He attributed his commitment to service to “values infused throughout my life.”

Seated (from right): Kitty Sankey, Ernest Doizaki and Kiyo Doizaki; standing (from right) Grace Shiba, Jeff Yamazaki and Anne Burroughs. The Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California (JCCSC) recognized recipients of the Jokun awards at a luncheon on June 10.

Community leader Sankey was born in Tokyo and graduated from the Department of Defense Kubasaki High School in Okinawa. In 2016, she became JCCSC’s first female president. Her numerous affiliations include Japan House L.A. Steering Committee, Japanese Women’s Society of Southern California, Japanese American Optimist Club, Little Tokyo Business Association, and Japanese American Citizens League, Downtown Chapter.

Sankey emphasized, “If we are to survive and flourish in Little Tokyo and in areas throughout Southern California, it is important to continue to introduce, to educate and to invite others to understand what it is to be Japanese.”

For over 45 years, Professor Krauss has worked to promote academic exchanges between Japan and the United States. He is considered a leading expert in Japanese politics and diplomacy.

Press has become an advocate for children in refugee camps, resolving that “children should not be punished for the sins of adults.” She became a pioneer in America’s sister city movement and in 2009 received the Ruth Hashimoto Award from Sister Cities International. In 2012, she earned the title of Global Envoy, SCI’s highest honor.

Photos by JUN NAGATA/Rafu Shimpo

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