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2016 47th JACL National Convention Highlights

By June 15, 2016June 25th, 2018No Comments

The 47th JACL National Convention is less than a month away. This year’s convention will be held in Las Vegas, Nev., from July 11-14 at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino. Following are convention highlights.

By JACL National Staff

The Japanese American of the Biennium Award

The Japanese American of the Biennium Award is the highest public award of the National JACL. It has been continuously awarded to an American of Japanese ancestry who has exhibited community leadership or given in recognition of one’s distinguished achievement. This year’s recipients are Carole Hayashino, Dan and June Kuramoto and Delphine Hirasuna.

Carole Hayashino is receiving the award under “Education and Humanities” for her career-long efforts to address social justice issues facing the Japanese American community. As president and executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, she has led efforts to highlight and memorialize the World War II experiences of Japanese Americans in Hawaii.

Hayashino is currently directing the creation of a new Honouliuli Education Center, in honor of the internment camp in Hawaii, which will be permanently located in the community gallery at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.

Among her career highlights, Hayashino served as National JACL staff to the National Committee for Redress in the 1980s and later served as associate director of the JACL. From 1996-2005, she was the associate VP for university development at San Francisco State University. She was then appointed as vp for university advancement at California State University, Sacramento, and was the chief administrative officer of the University Foundation. She retired from California State University, Sacramento, as vp emeriti of advancement in 2012. Hayashino also served two terms on the Marin Community College District Board, having been elected in 2003 and re-elected in 2007. In addition, she served on the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program’s Advisory Board in the State Librarian’s Office from 1998-2011. From 1996-2004, she also served on the Marin County Human Rights Commission. Hayashino was appointed to the State Commission for One California, where she worked successfully with Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, Universal Studios and the California Teachers Assn. to release and distribute the video “Farewell to Manzanar” to all California schools and public libraries.

Dan and June Kuramoto are receiving recognition under “Arts, Literature and Communications.” They are the founders of the multiaward-winning jazz band Hiroshima. Their work has proved that Japanese Americans can be leaders in an industry that has had minimal representation from the Asian American community. Hiroshima represents Asian America and has crossed ethnic borders, bringing Japanese American elements to popular American music.

During their illustrious career, Dan and June Kuramoto have received two Grammy nominations, produced 20 albums and earned numerous accolades from the music industry, community and government.

In 1979, Hiroshima received an Emmy Award for “Best Music, Children’s Series.” In 1980, the ensemble was named Billboard’s “Top New Jazz Artist,” and in 1981, the group received a Grammy nomination for “Best R&B: Instrumental Performance.” In 1985, Hiroshima was named “Top 10 Contemporary Jazz” and received Performance Magazine’s “Best Live Jazz Group” award in 1986. In 2009, Hiroshima received another Grammy Award Nomination for “Best Pop Instrumental Performance” and was featured in the “Thousand Hearts” Japan Relief Concert in 2011. Most recently, Hiroshima performed a musical tribute to Karen Ishizuka and Robert Nakamura at the Japanese American National Museum 2015 Gala Dinner. The ensemble also received the Asia America Symphony Association and Guild 2015 Bravo Award for “Community Champions” for its support of AASA and other community organizations.

Delphine Hirasuna is receiving the award under “Business, Industry and Technology.” She is the author of “The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts From the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946,” and guest curator of the “Art of Gaman” exhibit.

Hirasuna’s work has amplified the preservation of artifacts and craft art produced in Japanese American prisons during World War II and the utilization of those artifacts to educate the American public about the Japanese American experience.

In 2001, artifacts featured in Hirasuna’s book “The Art of Gaman” were turned into a traveling exhibition. She organized and curated the exhibition, which has been viewed by more than 500,000 visitors.

Hirasuna is also the principal of Hirasuna Editorial, founded in 1985 to provide editorial supervision and copywriting services to corporations, graphic design firms and advertising agencies throughout the United States. Her projects have won dozens of national and international awards.

In addition to her corporate consulting work, Hirasuna has authored several additional books on design and other subjects. Among her published works are “Presidio Gateways,” “Design Impact,” “Flavors of Japan” (nominated for a National Tastemakers Award), “101 Baseball Icons From the Baseball Hall of Fame,” “100 American Flags,” “Tejon Ranch” and “Obsessions.”

She is also the editor of @Issue: Journal of Business and Design(ITAL), and was a

feature columnist for the Hokubei Mainichi(ITAL) and Rafu Shimpo(ITAL) newspapers for more than 25 years.

Congratulations to all the recipients!

Plenary Sessions

This year’s annual JACL National Convention also features three plenaries including some of the top influencers of their fields, who will share their professional insight on the following pressing topics.

  • What’s at Stake in the 2016 Elections?

This plenary features nationally-recognized political and policy experts in a discussion about the importance of AAPI civic engagement in 2016. Participants will share their opinions and message research on issues including immigration and voting rights, as well as talk about pending social justice issues, court decisions and legislation at the national, state and local levels. This discussion will be moderated by former U.S. Secretary and Sen. Norman Y. Mineta and feature David Mermin, Joseph Liu, Nan Aron and Tim Storey.

Norman Y. Mineta became the 14th U.S. Secretary of Transportation on Jan. 25, 2001. Prior to joining President George W. Bush’s administration as Secretary of Transportation, Mineta served as U.S. Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton, becoming the first Asian Pacific American to serve in the presidential cabinet.

David Mermin is a partner at Lake Research Partners. For more than 20 years, he has advised incumbents and challengers at all levels of the electoral process, as well as a wide range of advocacy organizations, independent expenditures, foundations and labor unions.

Joseph Liu is the director of campaign strategy and management at AARP, where designs and supervises AARP’s efforts to engage, mobilize and activate its 38 million members around issues such as Social Security, health care, age discrimination, financial and retirement security, consumer utility rates and family caregiving.

Nan Aron is the founder and president of Alliance for Justice, a national association consisting of more than 100 organizations dedicated to advancing justice and democracy. Aron is nationally recognized for her vast expertise in public interest law, the federal judiciary and citizen participation in public policy. Aron is also the author of “Liberty and Justice for All: Public Interest Law in the 1980s and Beyond.”

Tim Storey is the director of leaders services for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), an organization dedicated to helping state legislatures craft policies. He staffed NCSL’s redistricting and elections committee for more than 20 years and authored numerous articles on redistricting and elections. This plenary is sponsored by AARP and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation.

  • The Future of the Pacific Citizen

A panel of prominent industry stakeholders will lead a conversation about the current and future prognosis for ethnic newspapers, the outlook for advertising revenue and trends for ethnic media. This plenary offers the audience an opportunity to understand issues relating to the Pacific Citizen(ITAL) from some of the top experts in the field. David Lin, national president of the JACL, will be the moderator, and panel participants are Bill Imada, Gil Asakawa and Jay Kim.

David Lin serves as national president of the Japanese American Citizens League and holds the position of VP public affairs and advocacy at IW Group, Inc. in New York. In this capacity, he advises his clients on developing and implementing winning strategies and campaigns at local, state and national levels to advance clients’ business goals and objectives.

Bill Imada is founder, chairman and chief connectivity officer of IW Group. Imada was appointed to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by President Obama. Imada is active in the community and serves on more than seven boards and advisory councils.

Gil Asakawa is the author of “Being Japanese American,” a history of Japanese in America, and co-author of “The Toy Book,” a history of the toys of the baby boom generation. He has served as both a member of the Editorial Board and Editorial Board Chair for the Pacific Citizen(ITAL). Asakawa is also a board member of both the Mile High Chapter of the JACL and past board member of the Japan America Society of Colorado.

Jay Kim is currently the managing director of AAAZA, Inc. His leadership experience includes starting a digital production team for IMG Media to manage clients and build interactive tools for sports marketing. Kim also put together a digital ensemble to manage PlayStation’s CRM and loyalty program. Last but not least, he leads a robust team that handles multicultural marketing, taking his advertising agency to the next level.

  • Who do we represent? Multiracial and Shin-Nikkei Experiences

How can JACL position itself as an organization that is inclusive and affirming of the diversity of identities and experiences that comprise the broader Nikkei community? The Japanese American community is changing.

Between the year 2000 and 2010, there was a 55 percent increase in the number of individuals reporting a multiracial and multiracial-multiethnic Japanese identity. Japanese Americans have the highest percentage of individuals reporting multiracial and multiethnic identities among all Asian American groups. A growing proportion of the Japanese American community is “Shin-Nikkei,” the Japanese community that migrated to the United States after 1975.

The conference will also feature the United States Japan Committee Report, moderated by past JACL National President Floyd Shimomura. The committee brings together Consul General Jun Yamada and Minister Takuya Sasayama for a discussion about U.S.-Japan relations.

Floyd Shimomura is an attorney and co-chair of JACL’s U.S.-Japan Education Committee. He spent his professional career as an attorney for the State of California in Sacramento, serving in senior positions with the State Attorney General’s office, State Personnel Board and the State Department of Finance. In 2004, Shimomura was appointed executive officer of the California State Personnel Board, where he administered California’s civil service system. He is a member of the board of governors of the Japanese American National Museum and a member of the U.S.-Japan Council.

Jun Yamada is the current consul general of Japan in San Francisco. Prior to his appointment as consul general in April 2015, he served as deputy director general, secretariat, for the Science Council of Japan. He was also the deputy vice minister for international affairs in the Ministry of Finance of Japan in 2013, and the director general of the European Bureau and Economic Bureau in 2012. Prior to that, he was ambassador and deputy chief for the mission to the European Union in 2011 and served as consul general in Vladivostok, Russia.

Takuya Sasayama is the current minister and head of chancery for the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C. Prior to his appointment, Sasayama served as minister of political

affairs and head of chancery for the Embassy of Japan in Korea. He was director of the First

Southeast Asia Division, Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department and director of the APEC Division. He also served in the Embassies of Japan in Malaysia and Mexico.

Booster Event and Contest

There is an optional booster event and contest in which JACL convention attendees can participate. The Booster Event will be reduced-price tickets for Blue Man Group at the Luxor Hotel and Casino. Blue Man Group is a comedy, theater, rock concert and dance party all rolled into one. Guests will be closer to the action than ever before at the specially designed Blue Man Theater at the Luxor Hotel and Casino. Complimentary transportation will be provided.

JACL is also hosting an Instagram Contest. The winner will receive roundtrip airline tickets courtesy of Southwest Airlines. Every day of the convention, participants must post a picture on Instagram that represents this year’s convention theme: “The Voices of Our Nation.” Be creative and enter to win this amazing prize!

JACL staff have worked hard to organize this upcoming convention for its members. Remember to sign up by June 17 to get early bird reservation at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino. For more information, visit