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Ernest and Kiyo Doizaki and Kitty Sankey on June 10 at the 2018 Jokun Recognition Community Luncheon. (Photo: George Kita)

Japanese government honors quartet for ‘outstanding service and contributions to bridge U.S.-Japan relations.’

By P.C. Staff

It was perhaps appropriate that the “i” was missing in Kitty Sankey’s name as printed in the program for the 2018 Jokun Recognition Community Luncheon, held at the Quiet Cannon event center in Montebello, Calif., on June 10 — after all, she and three other recipients were awarded Kunsho Medals by the Japanese government not only for individual accomplishments but also their exemplary service to others.

Joining Sankey in being recognized for their efforts in improving U.S.-Japan relations were Ernest Doizaki, Ellis Krauss and Thelma Press.

Ryukyukoku Matsuridaiko Los Angeles Branch entertain at the 2018 Jokun Recognition Community Luncheon. (Pacific Citizen photo)


Doizaki, a Los Angeles-born Sansei whose father, George J. Doizaki, was himself similarly recognized by the Japanese government in 1982, was a spring 2018 recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun Gold and

Silver Rays medal, in recognition of his involvement with the Japanese American National Museum and efforts to boost awareness of JANM in Japan. Doizaki has also been a longtime proselytizer of Japanese cuisine in the U.S., having served as a past CEO of the American Fish Co., founded by his father, at which he is currently chairman.

Speaking of his late father, Doizaki said, “I know he would be extremely proud of me, trying to continue building a strong relationship between Japan and our community. My father worked tirelessly to introduce Japanese culture to America and my mother (Nobuye) was always there to support him.”

Krauss, professor emeritus at the University of California San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy, has for more than 45 years promoted academic exchange between the U.S. and Japan. An expert in Japanese politics and diplomacy, he has authored some 100 academic papers and books on those topics. He also served as director of the International Career Associates Program (since renamed Global Leadership Institute) for five years. Krauss was a spring 2018 recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun Gold and Silver Rays and Neck Ribbon.

Press, who received the fall 2017 Order of the Rising Sun Gold and Silver Rays medal, was a pioneering leader in the sister-city movement, having co-founded the San Bernardino-Tachikawa sister-city arrangement in 1959 and was president of the San Diego-Yokohama sister-city relationship from 2013–15. Prior to that, she was on the board of directors of the Japanese Friendship Garden Society of San Diego and has

worked to introduce and promote Japanese culture to the garden’s visitors. Both she and Krauss were unable to attend the luncheon.

Sankey, a Tokyo-born Sansei, has been active in the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California for more than 25 years and in 2016 was appointed its first female president and the first member in that leadership role whose main language was English, not Japanese. During her tenure as the JCCSC’s president, she also was a member of the Japan House Los Angeles Steering Committee, in addition to being active in the Japanese Women’s Society of Southern California, the Japanese American Optimist Club and the Downtown Chapter of the JACL, where she serves on its board.

A former elementary school teacher, she retired from the Los Angeles Unified School District in 2009.

She was awarded the fall 2017 Order of the Rising Sun Gold and Silver Rays medal.

“I would like to thank my family for their support,” Sankey said. “My brother, Mikio, his wife, Kathy, my brother, EdWing, my uncle, Masao Yamashiro, my aunt, Frances Okumura, and my Nakamura, Fukuzaki and Yamashiro cousins.”

The luncheon’s mistress of ceremonies was Grace Shiba. Congratulatory remarks were made by Jeff Yamazaki, president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce Foundation; Ann Burroughs, president and CEO of JANM; and Akira Chiba, consul general of the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles.