By The North American Post Staff
Consul General Masahiro Omura held an annual New Year’s party at his official residence inviting hundreds of community leaders. He reviewed the local U.S.-Japan friendship activities of the last year and said he expected another flourishing community year for 2016.
Omura also presented four awards, one Foreign Minister Award to the Obon Society and the Consul General Award to Tsuchino Forrester, Tetsuden Kashima and Barbara Sanchez.
Obon Society, a non-profit organization by Rex and Keiko Ziak of Astoria, Ore., has actively assisted in the return of Japanese war flags, artifacts and memorial belongings to Japanese soldiers that were brought from battle fields to their relatives.
Last year, the activities were acknowledged by the Japanese government when the Ziaks visited Japan with U.S. veterans and met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“With the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Obon Society’s work has been recognized as an important symbol of reconciliation, mutual understanding and friendship between our two countries,” the consulate states.
According to the Japanese consulate, the Foreign Minister’s Commendation in Honor of the 70th Anniversary of the End of the War has been awarded
to 28 individuals and 14 groups around the country “in recognition of their outstanding achievements in and contributions to the promotion of good relations between Japan and the United States.”
Omura honored Forrester, Kashima and Sanchez with the Consul General Awards to recognize their “outstanding achievements in and contributions to the promotion of good relations between Japan and the United States.”
Forrester has been involved with local Nikkei community organizations through her tireless efforts, monetary contributions and strong leadership over last 30 years. She led Kisaragikai from 1990 to 1998 transforming the group into a public service organization and helping to build Nikkei Manor. She is a founder of the Japanese International Marriage Friendship Club and is the co-president of Japanese Community Service of Seattle.
Kashima is a nationally recognized scholar and expert of Japanese American history and the incarceration experience. His research has raised awareness of an important part of history and promoted mutual understanding between the United States and Japan. He has led the annual Day of Remembrance event at the University of Washington and the cherry planting project on campus in 2014 to commemorate the centennial of the first Japanese cherry tree gift to the United States.
Sanchez has been involved with sister city activities to strengthen the friendship between Japan and the United States. “It is thanks to the hard
work and strong grassroots diplomacy on the part of people like Ms. Sanchez that the connection between Japan and Washington State continues to thrive,” the consulate states.