On April 29, 2017, the Government of Japan announced the foreign recipients of the 2017 Spring Imperial Decorations. The Honorable Karen Fraser, former Washington state senator, has been awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, in recognition of her contributions in furthering exchange between Japan and the United States by promoting Japanese culture in Washington state.
Senator Karen Fraser’s history of involvement in US-Japan relations began in 1981, when she played an instrumental role in establishing a sister-city partnership between Olympia and Yashiro (now Kato city) in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Later, as a state senator, she led the organizing committees for both the 40th and 50th anniversary celebrations of the Hyogo Washington sister-state relationship, facilitating valuable exchanges between government and business leaders from both sides.
Senator Fraser has also made many important contributions to the local Japanese American community. These include efforts to create the Yashiro Japanese Garden in Olympia, restore the Nisei Veterans Committee Hall in Seattle, and in 2013, initiate the “Oshogatsu in Olympia” New Year’s celebration, contributing to the promotion and preservation of Japanese culture and Nikkei history.
After over 35 years, Senator Fraser continues to volunteer with the Olympia-Kato Sister City Association, and after nearly 25 years, with the Hyogo-Washington Sister State relationship. “Her dedication to fostering exchange and promoting Japanese culture in Washington State will have a positive and lasting impact on the US-Japan relationship for years to come,” the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle said in a statement.