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Toshizo (Tom) Watanabe was born in Zushi, Kanagawaa, Japan in 1949. While studying at Keio University, Mr. Watanabe received scholarships to study at Brandeis University in Massachusetts from the founder of Panasonic, Mr. Konosuke Matsuhita and the Wien International Scholarship Program. He graduated from Brandeis University in 1973 with a degree in Political Science under the Wien International Scholarship Program and subsequently moved back to Japan to become a successful independent businessman for many years, owning several international businesses.

In 1984, Mr. Watanabe joined Nikken Japan as a consultant the Director of Training. Five years into his Directorial position at Nikken, he directed the formation of the U.S. Nikken subsidiary. In 1988, he attended the Wein 30th Anniversary Celebration of its Scholarship Program, the event of which shaped the rest of his career.

At the celebration, Mr. Watanabe heard the speech of the late Lawrence Wien, who established the Scholarship Program. “That is when a seed was planted for me,” Mr. Watanabe said. “Since then, I have always wanted to repay the Wien family’s generosity by helping other students”. In 1992, he earned his MBA from Pepperdine University and also became the President of Nikken, USA, which he was overseeing, and further saw the expansion of the firm into 30 other nations. Fifteen years into his career at Nikken, he became the President and CEO of Nikken International.

Successful in his career, Mr. Watanabe was able to continue the spirit of paying it forward and contributed to researchers of the Magnetic Health Science Foundation in Japan, now the Watanabe Foundation. His educational opportunities abroad framed his philanthropic efforts and in 2008, he established the Toshizo Watanabe Foundation in the U.S. and the Watanabe Trust Fund at the National University of Iceland to support young students and scholars. To further give to the education sector, in late 2015, Mr. Watanabe contributed $10 million of his personal funds to the U.S. –Japan Council to establish the Toshizo Watanabe Endowed Scholarship Program, providing financial assistance to undergraduate students for a term or year-long study abroad program in the United States or Japan. Two years later, in December of 2017 he established the Toshizo Watanabe Fellowship Program through another $10 million endowment gift to the Inter-University Center (IUC), which is located in Yokohama, Japan for Japanese Language Studies at Stanford University, providing student scholarships for the world renowned language institute.

Months later, in May of 2018, through The Toshizo Watanabe Foundation, Mr. Watanabe gave a generous $2 million gift to Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) towards its culinary initiative in establishing the Toshizo Watanabe Culinary Cultural Center. The initiative supports JACCC’s mission in being an epicenter for Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture, connecting the traditional and the contemporary, and serving diverse communities in Southern California and beyond.

In November of the same year, he also established the Toshizo Watanabe International Scholarship Program (TWISP) at Brandeis University, his alma mater, to provide students from Japan with the opportunity to study there. Just recently, in March of 2019, Mr. Watanabe received the Alumni Achievement Award from Brandeis University at the Wien 60th Anniversary Celebration, marking all of his contributions towards education and providing the opportunity to strengthen the relationships between Japan and the United States.

Mr. Watanabe is currently busy running The Toshizo Watanabe Foundation, strengthening ties between Japan and the United States through education and arts.

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Dr. Paul Terasaki was born in 1929 in Los Angeles, California. The oldest of three sons, Dr. Terasaki’s early years were at times difficult. As a result of President’ Roosevelt’s Executive Order in 1942, Dr. Terasaki and family were forced to move to the Gila River internment camp in Arizona where they lived there for three years. When the war ended, they moved to Chicago rather than return to Los Angeles because of anti-Japanese sentiment on the west coast. Dr. Terasaki finished high school and then enrolled at the University of Illinois. In 1948, when the family felt it was safe to move back to Los Angeles, Dr. Terasaki transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to complete his degree in Zoology.

While working towards his PhD, Dr. Terasaki met his wife, Hisako, was married, and had a child. In 1956, Dr. Terasaki earned his PhD in Zoology from UCLA. His career in transplant began when he was hired by the UCLA Department of Surgery to study the success of skin graft transplants on newborn chicks. When Dr. Terasaki entered the field of organ transplant in 1956, it was in its infancy. Today, he is known as a pioneer in transplant, but in 1956, he, like everyone else, was trying to figure it all out.

In 1957-1958, Dr. Terasaki worked as a scholar in London in Professor Peter Medawar’s laboratory. These years were, in his words, “the most significant time of my entire life.” After his time in London, Dr. Terasaki returned to UCLA as a researcher and began his antibody research with chickens and then in mice and rabbits and eventually, in 1963, in humans. Among his most notable contributions to the field of organ transplant, Dr. Terasaki developed the microcytotoxicity test in 1964, which by 1970, became the international standard. Dr. Terasaki would later be promoted to professor of surgery, a rare exception as he had a PhD unlike the MDs that most other faculty member of the surgery department of UCLA had. He held that position from 1969-1999. Dr. Terasaki valued his collaboration with other transplant centers and through his collaboration, established the Kidney Transplant Registry, which would eventually become the United Network for Organ Sharing registry.

Dr. Paul Terasaki established the Nibei Foundation, a California non-profit organization, in 1998. His vision included providing various forms of support to medical researchers and physicians coming from Japan to engage in medical activities at United States institutions. The Foundation has become a hub of cultural exchanges for people with deep, fond roots in America and Japan.

Although he retired from his position at UCLA in 1999, Dr. Terasaki continued his work in transplant research and specifically, the role of antibodies in transplant, with the establishment in April 2000 of the Terasaki Foundation Laboratory (TFL). He published more than 900 scientific articles and trained some 100 postdoctoral scholars at UCLA. He received many awards, including the prestigious Medawar Prize. The prize, named after Nobel Laureate Sir Peter Medawar, recognizes the outstanding investigators whose contributions have had a profound influence on the field of organ transplantation. It is universally considered to be commensurate with the most outstanding world prizes for scientific achievement. Terasaki was also awarded the UCLA Medal, the campus’s highest honor, in 2012.

His children have spent a total of 22 years at UCLA. His first son, Mark, earned a bachelor’s degree from UCLA (and a doctorate from UC Berkeley); his second son, Keith, earned bachelor’s and medical degrees from UCLA; and his daughter Emiko earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UCLA (and a medical degree from Brown University). Terasaki’s third son, Taiji, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UC Irvine.


Forever grateful for the opportunities afforded him by UCLA, Dr. Terasaki wanted to be both institutionally and physically closer to his alma mater. He entered into an affiliation agreement with UCLA which resulted in the creation of the Terasaki Research Institute in Westwood. In 2010, the Terasaki family gave $50 million to the Division of Life Sciences in the UCLA College of Letters and Science, the largest gift ever given to the UCLA College and among the largest received by the university in its 91-year history. Terasaki's generosity to UCLA goes back many years and covers many parts of the university. In 2001, he established an endowed chair in U.S.–Japan relations, and in 2006, he and his wife contributed $5 million to UCLA to promote better understanding between the United States and Japan at the renamed Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies at the UCLA International Institute. Terasaki’s philanthropy extended to the Japanese American community. He was a major donor to organizations including the Japanese American National Museum and the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.

Until his death in January 2016, Dr. Terasaki continued to impact the field of organ transplant through his dedication to research and desire to improve transplant outcomes. The Terasaki Research Institute will continue the work of Dr. Terasaki to address the barriers to long-term success in the field of organ transplantation.

Dr. Paul Terasaki is survived by his wife Hisako; their four children, Mark, Keith, Taiji, and Emiko; six grandchildren, Mayumi, Paul, Kazuo, Susie, Kenta and Miya; and his brother, Richard.

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Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc.’s U.S. Operations including MUFG Americas Holdings Corporation

The U.S. operations of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. (MUFG), one of the world’s leading financial groups, has total assets of $337.4 billion at December 31, 2018. As part of that total, MUFG Americas Holdings Corporation (MUAH), a financial holding company, bank holding company and intermediate holding company, has total assets of $168.1 billion at December 31, 2018. MUAH’s main subsidiaries are MUFG Union Bank, N.A. and MUFG Securities Americas Inc. MUFG Union Bank, N.A. provides a wide range of financial services to consumers, small businesses, middle-market companies, and major corporations. As of December 31, 2018, MUFG Union Bank, N.A. operated 352 branches, consisting primarily of retail banking branches in the West Coast states, along with commercial branches in Texas, Illinois, New York and Georgia, as well as 22 PurePoint® Financial Centers. MUFG Securities Americas Inc. is a registered securities broker-dealer which engages in capital markets origination transactions, private placements, collateralized financings, securities borrowing and lending transactions, and domestic and foreign debt and equities securities transactions. MUAH is owned by MUFG Bank, Ltd. and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. MUFG Bank, Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc., has offices in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, and Canada.

Visit unionbank.com or mufgamericas.com for more information.

For MUFG Union Bank’s Corporate Profile, click here.



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Learn more about the Community Spirit Award, its recipients over the years, and more here.




Frank Buckley anchors the award-winning and top-rated KTLA 5 Morning News, Southern California's most-watched morning news broadcast. Buckley also hosts 'Frank Buckley Interviews' seen on KTLA on weekends and also available as an audio podcast. He is the recipient of numerous awards including Emmys, Golden Mikes, AP Television and Radio Association awards, and awards from the LA Press Club. In 2006, Buckley, whose mother is Japanese, traveled to Japan as part of the Japanese American Leadership Delegation. In 2011, he was the only LA-based reporter to provide live coverage from Sendai in the immediate aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Buckley is a member of the US-Japan Council. He is also a member of the Los Angeles board of JDRF, the global leader in raising funds for type 1 diabetes research.


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Bando Hidesomi Nihon Buyo Class is led under the instructor Bando Hidesomi, currently one of the authorized L.A. Representative with the Bando Office in Tokyo.

Bando Hidesomi was born in Torrance, CA and started her training under Madame Bando Mitsuhiro, at the age of three in 1976. In 1985, she also started training under Madame Bando Hideko, daughter of Grand Master Bando Mitsugoro IX (9th). Since then, she has visited Japan for additional practices. She trained in Japan for 5 years under the care of Bando Mitsugoro IX, while attending Keio University. During her 5 years in Japan, she received the title of Shihan (Master’s degree). She also participated in the Bando School’s Charity Recital in Tokyo and Bando-Kai’s 75th Anniversary Recital, at the National Theater of Japan. After returning to the United States in 1996, she started to build her career as a professional dancer as she also started the Bando Hidesomi Nihon Buyo class.


While pursuing her own studies as a professional dancer, she has dedicated herself to the upbringing of her students in the Los Angeles area for over 20 years. She is presently teaching at the Mai no Kai studio in Torrance, Pasadena JCI and Gardena JCI, consisting of students ranging from the age of 4 up to students in their 70’s. She is also a part of the after school program at El Marino Elementary School for the past 20 years.
Bando Hidesomi and her students have performed at many different venues through out the years. They also share their passion by participating annually in the Nisei Week Festival, obons held at Zenshuji and Sozenji Temple and visiting the Keiro nursing homes. In recent years, she has had the privilege of teaching the queen candidates for their Nihon Buyo section in the Nisei Week Coronation Ball. She has also been the choreographer for the Nisei Week Grand Parade.

Apart from performing, she has also shared her passion by having lecture demonstrations at educational facilities such as JACCC, ESGVJCC, UC Santa Barbara, El Camino College and Loyola Marymount University.

Through Nihon Buyo, Bando Hidesomi wishes to express the feeling of appreciation and respect for all cultures, and that her passion for Nihon Buyo will bring love, joy, peace and hope to everyone, creating a bridge of unity between all cultures.
It is a privilege and an honor for my students, Bando Hiroharumi and her daughter Aly Mayumi Minamide to be part of the 39th Anniversary Celebration & Awards Dinner. Thank you for inviting us to this very special event!



Established in Los Angeles in 2001, the Grateful Crane Ensemble is a non-profit theater group that has been paying tribute to our Issei and Nisei pioneers by telling their stories and singing their songs. For nearly 18 years, their mission has been to present educational and theatrical programs in appreciation for the unique hardships and inspiring contributions of Japanese Americans in our country’s history. Through popular shows such as “The Camp Dance: The Music & The Memories,” “Nihonmachi: The Place to Be,” “Natsukashi no Kouhaku Uta Gassen” and “Misora Hibari: A Tribute to a Legend,” Grateful Crane educates, enlightens and entertains the community about who we are and where we come from, and honors our elders for paving the way for all of us to follow.




Musical Direction: Grateful Crane Ensemble, LosAKAtombros, Japanese American National Museum, Children's Museum of Los Angeles, East West Players, Keiro Nursing and Retirement Homes, numerous community organizations. Composer film: Living In The Story, Kimono In France, Visas & Virtue, Pawns of the King, Day of Independence. Discography: Shaku Horaku-Diva Collaborations 2010-2013, I Saw Baachan Kissing Santa Claus, Nihonmachi, BookSongs, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Celebrating Children's Books, East West Players Sings Sondheim. YouTube channel: Scott Nagatani. 

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Born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Gordon Bash studied jazz at the University of North Texas before moving to Los Angeles.  He got his LA start performing with the quintessential lounge-duo Marty & Elayne at the Dresden Room.  Original projects include AL1CE, BASHROCK, and Alice Underground.  Notably, Bash was a finalist with William Close and the Earth Harp Collective on Season 7 of America’s Got Talent.  He is also the bandleader/musical director of the show Mortified, and as composer, has scored the Netflix documentary “Mortified: Nation” and “The Mortified Guide”.  He has traveled to Japan two times performing with the Grateful Crane Ensemble.  Eternal thanks to Scott Nagatani for all the fun times.

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David Cheung has played drums since the ripe old age of 13. From 1995-2005, he was the resident drummer at East West Players--the nation's first and foremost Asian American Theater Company. He also played with the Big Band at UC Irvine where he spent a bit of time on stage with jazz greats James Newton, Lanny Morgan, and Bobby Shew.  He's currently a member of LosAkatombros, where he deps for Hiroshima legend, Danny Yamamoto.  In the daytime, he makes pretty pictures of things that sometimes people build. He lives in Culver City with his wife (MamaBare Ai Cheung) and two kids.

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Keiko Kawashima is a professional singer, actress, dancer, and founding member of the Grateful Crane Ensemble.  Stage credits:  A Seed:  Ichi-Ryu Manbai; Misora Hibari Tribute; Nihonmachi; J-Town Jazz Club; Natsukashi No Kouhaku Uta Gassen; and Camp Dance.  She has performed at numerous community events for: Kei-Ai Los Angeles; Sakura Gardens; Nikkei Senior Gardens; Consulate General of Japan/Los Angeles; Go For Broke; JACCC; JANM; Nisei Week; and, Nanka Mie Kenjinkai.  She has performed, recorded, and developed various projects in Japan.  Through her bilingual abilities, she enjoys serving as a “bridge” between the U.S. and Japan, and nurturing that connection through music.

2019 Anniversary Dinner Committee



Ashley Arikawa
Jerry Fukui
Thomas Iino
Nikki Kodama
Nancy Matsui
Jim Matsushita
Dinner Committee Members

Rumi Nakatani
Hiroyo Nonoyama
Lauren Ohata
Dolly Oishi
Nancy Okubo
Diana Ono

Sandy Sakamoto
Lisa Sugimoto
Craig Tomiyoshi
Helen Yamahata


Honoring the Aratani Family, Sugimoto Family, and Community Spirit Awardees Craig Ishii, Kathy Masaoka, and Alan Miyatake.

38th Anniversary Celebration photos by Toyo Miyatake Studio

For questions or additional information, please contact Helen H. Ota at hota@jaccc.org or (213) 628-2725.