Luncheon with Grant Newsham, The “Other” Side of Japan: Yakuza and their involvement in Japanese Society, Government and Business

On Thursday, April 27th, 2017, over 75 guests attended a lunch talk at the Ala Moana Hotel given by Grant Newsham on “The Other Side of Japan: Yakuza”.  Mr. Newsham provided an enthralling picture of Yakuza in today’s Japan – their involvement in all levels of Japanese society and their impact on domestic and global business and government affairs.  Mr. Newsham’s personal anecdotes and stories allowed attendees an inside look into yakuza operations and how they wield influence over infrastructure development and political figures and events.  Perhaps most surprising to the audience was learning of the yakuza presence in Hawaii.

The yakuza is a blanket term for Japan’s organized crime groups. They were traditionally federations of gamblers and street merchants and their history dates back hundreds of years. Today, there are 21 major groups with more than 53,000 members, according to the National Police Agency. Many of their money-making activities are illegal but they also run legitimate enterprises.

A Retired U.S. Marine Colonel, Mr. Newsham is an independent business risk consultant specializing in organized-crime, corruption, fraud, and other oft-overlooked threats to private companies doing international business. He lived in Japan for over 20 years and served as a U.S. Diplomat before spending over a decade with a major American financial firm fending off risk-threats to private companies.

Tomodachi – Hinamatsuri Celebration at the Japanese Consulate

Hinamatsuri Celebration at the Japanese Consulate

On March 1, 2017, Consul General Yasushi Misawa and Mrs. Yoko Misawa graciously opened their doors to hold a Hinamatsuri Celebration in their official residence for JASH members and guests. Hinamatsuri (Doll Festival) also known as Momo-no-sekku (Peach Festival) is traditionally celebrated on March 3 by the Japanese to wish for the happiness and healthy growth of girls. Households display elegant dolls called hina ningyo dressed in ancient court costumes of the Heian Period (794 – 1185).

Consul General and Mrs. Misawa welcome guests to the hinamatsuri celebration

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JASH New Year’s Reception – January 24, 2017

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On January 24, 2017, nearly 200 JASH members and guests celebrated the Year of the Rooster at its shinnenkai held at the historic Washington Place, the home of Governor David Ige and First Lady Dawn Amano Ige.

JASH Board Vice Chairman Steve Sombrero served as the evening’s emcee. Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko opened the celebration and delighted guests with a lively Okinawa-style lion dance and taiko performance.shishimai

Governor Ige, JASH Board Chairman Sal Miwa, and Board Director Howard Hamamoto — who represented the Reception’s sponsor Stanford Carr — offered welcome remarks.

Guests enjoyed a delicious buffet including traditional Japanese foods prepared by Mariposa.kagamiwari

The Japanese traditional sake cask-breaking ceremony (kagamiwari) by Governor Ige, Consul General Yasushi Misawa, Chair Miwa, Director Hamamoto, and Ms. Bruni Bradley, wife of Admiral Harry Harris, brought blessings of health, happiness and prosperity to all. Consul General Misawa offered a rousing kanpai.

JASH extends its sincere appreciation to the event’s sponsor, Stanford Carr Development LLC., who has generously supported the New Year Reception for more than 10 years. Thank you also to Board Director Duane Kawamoto and his Mariposa team, Kokusai Sake Kai, and The Cherry Company.

2017 JASH Junior Ambassadors have been selected

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The Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH) is pleased to announce the selection of six Junior Ambassadors (JAs) to represent JASH and Hawaii at the 29th Annual Asian-Pacific Children’s Convention (APCC) in Fukuoka, Japan in summer 2017.

The APCC is a cultural exchange program that deepens participant’s appreciation for the cultures of other nations and regions, and promotes mutual understanding and friendship, nurtures international awareness in young people, and works towards world peace and co-existence. It is hoped that the JAs will build an international network of friends.

Following the competitive application process, the six Junior Ambassadors — three boys and three girls, all age 11 — will participate in a JASH-designed six-month preparation program for their July Japan experience.

In Fukuoka, the students will meet over 200 fellow Junior Ambassadors from 40 countries and cities in the Asia-Pacific region in a global youth camp. This will be followed by a home stay where they will live with a Japanese host family. It is our hope that our Ambassadors will mature into adults with a strong sense of social responsibility.

The 2017 Junior Ambassadors are:

  1. Yuuka Brown, Waikiki Elementary
  2. Sabina Funasaki, Noelani Elementary
  3. Ryan Handa, Kainalu Elementary
  4. Rielan Hung, Maryknoll School
  5. Taryn Kimura, Moanalua Elementary
  6. Kyler Shigemi, Aina Haina Elementary

If you wish to know more about the APCC program, please visit the JASH website, www.jashawaii.org/category/apcc, or contact David Nakanishi, APCC Program Coordinator, at (808) 524-4450 or via dnakanishi@jashawaii.org.

We thank you for your continuing support of JASH.

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits Ehime Maru Memorial

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Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the Ehime Maru Memorial at Kaka’ako Waterfront Park on December 26, 2016 during his visit to Honolulu. Prime Minister Abe was welcomed by Sal Miwa (JASH Chair) and Blair M.T. Odo (JASH and Ehime Maru Memorial Association (EMMA) Interim President), along with Earl Okawa (JASH President Emeritus) and Kenneth Saiki (EMMA Director).

“Prime Minister Abe commented how he was Cabinet Secretary at the time of the accident, and remembers well the subsequent events with sadness,” said Interim President Odo.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, lays a wreath at the Ehime Maru Memorial at Kakaako Waterfront Park, Monday, Dec. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. The memorial is dedicated to the victims of a 2001 collision off the coast of Hawaii between the Ehime Maru, a fisheries training vessel, and a U.S. naval submarine. Several were killed, including four high school students, in the accidental collision. Shinzo Abe arrived in Hawaii on Monday to recognize the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, lays a wreath at the Ehime Maru Memorial at Kakaako Waterfront Park, Monday, Dec. 26, 2016, in Honolulu. The memorial is dedicated to the victims of a 2001 collision off the coast of Hawaii between the Ehime Maru, a fisheries training vessel, and a U.S. naval submarine. Several were killed, including four high school students, in the accidental collision. Shinzo Abe arrived in Hawaii on Monday to recognize the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

JASH provides liaison and administrative services for EMMA. The Memorial honors the nine crew members of the Japanese fishery high school training ship Ehime Maru who lost their lives on February 9, 2001, when the tragic accident with the submarine occurred. Since then, both EMMA and JASH have facilitated various cultural and educational exchange programs to heal and strengthen relations between Ehime Prefecture and Hawaii.

Later in the evening, a reception was held for the Prime Minister at the Hawaii Convention Center, with JASH — along with other Japan-related organizations in Hawaii — playing a key planning role.

Tomodachi Holiday Tea Delights JASH Members and Guests

On Thursday, December 15, 2016, the annual Tomodachi Holiday Tea at the Outrigger Canoe Club in Waikiki brought together JASH members and guests for an afternoon of singing, merriment, and beautiful ocean views.

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Bobby Moderow, Jr. shares his musical talents.

Special guests included Yoko Misawa, wife of the Honorable Yasushi Misawa, Consul General of Japan in Honolulu. Bobby Moderow, Jr., of Maunalua — the Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning trio – began the festivities with his slack key guitar artistry and falsetto voice.

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Nagaoka City Students Exchange Perspectives on Peace with University of Hawaii at Manoa Students

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Nagaoka students meet with University of Hawaii students at the EWC.

On Wednesday, December 7, 2016, 27 students from Nagaoka City and the University of Hawaii at Manoa met at the East West Center for a discussion on peace and its meaning to today’s generation.  The 12 university and high school students from Japan were participants in Nagaoka City’s Peace Exchange Program.  The 15 UHM students were enrolled in Gladys Nakahara Sensei’s Fourth-year Japanese for Advanced Speakers course.  Over lunch, the students enjoyed the exchange of ideas about peace.  

The Nagaoka City students visited Honolulu with a full 4-day itinerary that included visits to the USS Missouri, Pacific Aviation Museum, and Arizona Memorial, and attendance at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Ceremony on December 7.  The students also paid their respects at the Ehime Maru Memorial and Punchbowl Cemetery.  In addition to meeting with UHM students, they also visited the Kamehameha Schools.

JASH is pleased to partner with the Nagaoka International Exchange Association in helping to foster cross-cultural learning and understanding through the exchange of perspectives between younger generations of Japan and Hawaii.    

JASH Celebrates the Season of Giving at the Holiday Gala & Auction

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Benefit Auctioneer, Ms. Sherry Truhlar, facilitates an exciting bidding war.

On December 8, 2016, a sold-out crowd of nearly 250 JASH members and guests attended the annual JASH Holiday Gala and Auction at the Pōmaika‘i Ballrooms at Dole Cannery Iwilei to raise funds for the Society.

This festive event featured a night of fun and fabulous finds, including vacation packages to New York City and West Korea/Seoul; Honolulu Fish Auction tour and breakfast at Nico’s at Pier 38; a round of golf and lunch at the exclusive Waialae Country Club; a wide array of restaurant gift cards; impressive holiday décor, and rare experiences such as a weekend getaway to Maui, which included airfare, rental car, and an exclusive tour of the Ali‘i Kula Lavender Farm.
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Tomodachi – Sharing Memories of Pearl Harbor Through the Eyes of Kamaʻaina Citizens, 75 Years Ago

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(L-R) Mr. Seikichi “Chick” Takara, Mrs. Shirley Miyamoto, Mr. Herbert Kiyoto Yanamura

On Thursday, November 3, 2016, the Tomodachi Committee presented Sharing Memories of Pearl Harbor – Through the Eyes of Kamaʻaina Citizens, 75 Years Ago at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Stunning first-hand accounts surprised and enlightened event attendees, many of whom expressed hope that the younger generation will also delve into such personal stories to obtain a more thorough understanding of this momentous world event.

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Japan-America Society of Hawaii Holds Fall 2016 Japan Day

The Japan-America Society of Hawaii (JASH) held its bi-annual Japan Day, sponsored by JASH Board Director Jean Rolles, on October 27, 2016 at Pacific Beach Hotel.

The Japan Day program, now in its 24th year, is the Society’s longest running educational program that brings together – in a single location- numerous experts in traditional Japanese arts and culture to provide students with hand-on experiences to make their study of Japan come alive.  Nearly 150 students representing Damien Memorial School, Kapolei High School, Nanakuli High School, St. Joseph High School and University Laboratory School took part in the various cultural classes.

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